Newly retired social worker and counsellor Lorraine Loranger does not plan to slow down any time soon.
This June the 66 year old from Quebec, will begin a walk across Canada to raise awareness about the conditions of mothers and children in the North and raise funds to start up a safe house in Nunavik.
“A safe house would provide shelter for children and help their mothers, through education, to counter the violence they are subjected to,” Loranger said during a stop over in Williams Lake.
She spent a day gathering signatures for a petition she plans to eventually deliver to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Her petition asks for empowerment of Inuit mothers and reduction of the number of foster children placements in Nunavik.
While in Williams Lake Loranger visited the Cariboo Friendship Society and Denisiqi Services Society.
Loranger will depart from Victoria B.C. next week and end her walk in Victoria County, N.S.
She expects the 8,000-kilometre journey will take her two years to complete as she doesn’t plan to walk during the months of October to April because for the most part she will be camping along the way or sleeping in her car.
Inspiration for the project emerged after Loranger worked for child protection in four different Inuit communities on Hudson’s Bay between 2009 and 2010.
“Some situations made me cry,” she said, remembering a girl who was moved 56 times between the ages of two and six years old.
Loranger described conditions in the communities she worked where often 15 or 16 people lived in a two bedroom home.
The homes are on stilts, they have water tanks that are filled once a week and septic tanks, she said.
Over representation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system is often due to the fact mothers don’t receive the supports they need, she added.
In some cases, when women are beaten, they leave their Inuit communities for Montreal or Toronto and don’t return.
“To save themselves mothers must leave their children behind,” Loranger said.
Setting up a safe house in each community would give mothers and children respite for a longer term and perhaps give them enough time to take new steps toward protection, she said.
As she walks across Canada, Loranger also plans to visit different models of safe houses where families are engaged.
“This is more about walking,” she said. “It’s about talking with people and walking with them.”
To follow her venture go to http://quinuituq.blogspot.com.