About 200 people participated in a drug awareness event on August 2 and about a third of them had walked or rode a bike or motorized vehicle from Keeseekoose First Nation to Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
The walk was organized by the family of the late Raquel Ketchemonia, who would have celebrated her 25th birthday on that date, said Eunice Ketchemonia, an aunt.
Raquel died in April as a result of crystal meth use, Eunice said. The walk was a memorial or remembrance of Raquel as well as the many other people who have been lost due to drugs.
The walk began in the yard of Raquel’s parents, Lee and Muriel Ketchemonia, she said. It began with a prayer and some people walked, some biked and others rode along in vehicles behind the walkers.
The procession was attended by Chief Calvin Straightnose of Keeseekoose First Nation and several elders, including David Kakakway, Langford Whitehawk, Ted Strongquill and Stella Ketchemonia. Lee Ketchemonia was an organizer and Lavern Kakakaway, a security volunteer.
The event ended in a space next to the administration building at Madge Lake with a barbecue. Draws were held and prizes won.
About 200 people attended, said Lee Ketchemonia, who explained that the intent of the event was to speak to those with grief, to let them know that it is hard to go through and it seems never ending.
“Our prayers are with everyone,” he said. “We feel what they feel and know it is a terrible state we’re in.”
In discussions with other persons attending the event, Lee said that many had requested that the walk or ride be held again so that it is likely it will become an annual event.