Michael Yellowlees, a Scottish man and walking enthusiast, is trekking coast-to-coast across Canada by foot. It has taken him six months to walk to Sudbury from Tofino, B.C., but he still has a ways to go until his final destination: Cape Spear, Nfld. He’s not doing it alone either; his faithful canine companion Luna is joining him on the journey.
And he’s doing it for a cause.
Through a JustGiving fundraising campaign, Yellowlees is raising money for Trees for Life, a rewilding charity based in Scotland. ‘Rewilding,’ as described by the organization Rewilding Europe, “is a progressive approach to conservation. It's about letting nature take care of itself, enabling natural processes to shape land and sea, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. Through rewilding, wildlife's natural rhythms create wilder, more biodiverse habitats.”
“Scotland is my home land and I do a lot of walking back home and it’s actually a very sad landscape, a very broken ecosystem. Actually in the last five or six years I found out that Scotland used to be forested. From coast to coast, it used to spread all over Scotland,” Yellowlees told Sudbury.com in an interview.
The reason he chose to walk across Canada is because of the wildlife and greenery that this country still has to offer.
“You have wilderness here we don’t have back in Scotland anymore. So we are at a stage where we (Scotland) have to start again whereas you (Canada) guys have wilderness here that we have previously lost in Scotland. So I’m kind of getting a taste of that and bringing it home to Scotland with me,” Yellowlees said.
He also revealed that he has some Canadian heritage himself through his mother who was born in Toronto.
Yellowlees has raised roughly $25,000 so far, but he is hoping to double or triple that amount by the end of his mission.
He started preparing for this adventure in 2019 in Dunkeld and Birnam, Scotland. He had previously done walks across countries like this before, but never to this length. In 2017, he walked across India and that trek took him roughly a month. Nonetheless, his experience so far has been positive.
“Canada is such a beautiful country. I’ve moved through so many different landscapes. I’ve had the rockies of B.C., through the flatlands of Saskatchewan, and into the wilds of Ontario now — it has been really amazing,” he said.
Despite going through some challenges like thunderstorms and heat waves, and being isolated for most of the time, he said it has been a rewarding experience.
Yellowlees left Sudbury on Sept. 6 after visiting the Steelworkers Hall as part of Labour Day celebrations. Sudbury MPP Jamie West decided to join for a bit of the walk at the USW hall to the end of the riding, inspired by the initiative.
Yellowlees said he hopes to inspire others in taking action with the environment as well. He recognized that at the rate the world is going with the environment, “we are walking very quickly towards a cliff edge, in regards to the environment.” Yellowlees still has miles ahead of him, but with his dog and best friend, Luna, an Alaskan Husky, he is determined to finish it.
To follow Michael and Luna for the rest of their walk, visit the Facebook page here.