The brother of a woman who died earlier this month is walking from Saskatoon to Prince Albert on what his family calls “a healing journey.”
“It’s a positive way of dealing with the loss, and to have awareness of our aboriginal women who are lost,” said Pernell Ballantyne’s wife, Dionne Doucette.
Ballantyne’s sister Monica Burns, who grew up on the James Smith Cree Nation, was found dead on a snowmobile trail near Prince Albert on Jan. 17.
Doucette said a friend visited Ballantyne while he was mourning, and a discussion between them sparked the idea for the walk. Ballantyne embarked from Saskatoon on Tuesday, walking along the side of the highway.
Doucette said he is expected to reach Prince Albert by Thursday.
She said the family is drawing strength from the hardship Ballantyne faces on the long walk.
“He’s a strong man, and he is suffering,” she said.
She referenced the continuing issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, adding it’s particularly troubling because of the sacred position of women in aboriginal culture.
“Men should be taught to treat our women with respect,” she said.
Ballantyne’s walk is not a political statement, Doucette noted — it’s about the family banding together and healing.
“Instead of turning to negative things like substance abuse, we’re getting together,” she said.
RCMP have said they’re treating Burns’ death as a homicide. A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday in Regina to release some new information about the case.