Albert Bouvier is making his way across Canada. Originally from Vancouver, Bouvier is hoping to be the first Indigenous man to walk from coast to coast - over 4,000 kilometres - to commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S) and as well as for anyone who has felt the crushing sorrow of losing a loved one.
Bouvier has already conquered hundreds of kilometres since he started 25 days ago, walking from Vancouver through British Columbia's interior. He made a short stop in Airdrie last week and on Tuesday and was planning to continue his journey to Gleichen and then to Brooks, Alberta. He said that he had initially seen another man trekking across the country for cancer research and after having done some research he was set on making his own cross-country journey.
@albybouvier33 update for everybody yesterday it was a good journey gonna give my feet a rest there all swollen but back at it in the morning ##keeponkeepingon##journeytotheeast##❤️it##spreadingawareness##goodvibes ♬ original sound - ALBY
He reflected upon his own traumatic upbringing and said that he has been through many things in life and has seen many more.
"...Just being on the wrong side of the road. I figured I wanted to do something right and make a change. I wanted to spread awareness for indigenous people," Bouvier said.
He lamented that while there has been media coverage of MMIWG, it is sporadic and in his view not nearly enough coverage as should be dedicated to the subject.
"I just had this idea of spreading his awareness and getting all of this out there, so the world can see... [maybe] not the world - but definitely Canada."
Bouvier admitted his journey hasn't been easy. He attempted to walk along what is ominously dubbed the Highway of Tears, a location in which an alarming number of Indigenous women and girls have gone missing in Northern B.C. (a 725-kilometre corridor of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert) but said the experience was too daunting.
"I felt that energy on that highway and something was telling me to not take that highway," he said. "That highway was giving me too much anxiety and I just couldn't carry on that track. So, I had to turn around and go down towards Kamloops."
When asked if he reflects on some of the tragedies that have befallen indigenous women and girls, he said it is always on his mind.
"Every time I'm walking it crosses my mind; I could end up missing."
While the introspection has been a sombre experience for him, Bouvier has also found support across the provinces, including from a friend of his who is coming from Prince George B.C. to visit him while he makes his way across Canada. He has also been streaming his journey on Tiktok, and Instagram, as well as documenting his stops on Facebook. Bouvier has also set up a Gofundme campaign which is aiming to raise $80,000.
"This journey is more than just a physical feat - it's a symbol of hope and resilience, showing that people across the country are willing to take action and stand up for what is right. It's a call to action for all Canadians to acknowledge the impact of colonization, racism, and misogyny on Indigenous communities, and to work towards creating a society where everyone can live free from violence and discrimination," he wrote on the campaign page.
When asked what lessons and reflections non-Indigenous Canadians can try to strive for, he said it's a question no one has asked him, though he underlined that everyone should take note that humankind has two very universal ideals in the words: that everyone is human and that we should all be kind to one another.
"I was pretty scared [when I started]. There were a lot of things going through my head. Since then, I've had all this support. It just gave me that courage. Everybody was telling me their stories about losing loved ones and this and that. It just gave me that courage to just keep on going."
The exact number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada has been difficult to place, however, there are estimates that the number of victims could be 400 or more, with half of the murder cases remaining unsolved.
Bouvier will end his journey in St. John's, Newfoundland.