‘Everybody across Canada is affected’: Saskatchewan man on cross-country walk to end violence

Conrad Burns has already walked over 6,000 kilometres from St. John’s, N.L. and he’s hoping to reach Victoria sometime in August. His epic journey is to raise awareness about violence in Canada and help to put an end to it.

“There has been a lot of struggles,” Burns said as he walked through Lethbridge, Alta on Monday. “More blisters than I would like to count – loss of toenails – sometimes you can feel your heart beat in your feet.”

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He says he hopes his walk against violence is something that will get the attention of people across the country.

“One in four women and one in six men have been abused, that means everybody across Canada is affected,” Burns said. “This is across all cultures, all income brackets.”

Burns, who is from Prince Albert, Sask., said he is part of that statistic. He was the victim of an emotionally abusive relationship but thought it was normal.

“This walk needs to happen to understand what abuse is because so many people are in that cycle,” he said. “We’re talking about what abuse is. Abuse is belittling, controlling, mocking, throwing, kicking – so we have to learn what these symptoms are.”

It’s a cycle that Patricia Crowe is helping him break. She was in an abusive relationship too and she’s hoping the Rise Up National Walk to End Violence will give voices to victims.

“We’ve been through it, we’re stepping up and we’re raising awareness and we know what you’re going through and we want you to find that courage to be inspired to speak your truth and hopefully remove yourself from the cycle of abuse,” she said.

There is still over 1,000 kilometres to go but Burns said he is already thinking about what he can do after he finishes the walk.

“I would like to start developing support groups for abusers and abused people so that they can have places to go because there are not a lot of supports out there for people that have gone through an abusive relationship or (are) dealing with their own actions of abusive behaviours,” he said.