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Wednesday, 18 May 2011 18:36

Béliveau stops in Swift Current during tail end of world-wide walk

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jean Béliveau feels like he’s on his driveway going home.

Despite being approximately 4,000 kilometres away from his actual driveway in Montreal when he strolled into Swift Current May 4, the 55-year-old Quebecker couldn’t feel closer to home.

For the last 10-and-a-half years, Béliveau has walked more than 71,000 kilometres around the world without ever returning home.

The Montreal native decided he needed change in his life after finding himself in a dark place. He started walking and eventually started to wonder how long it would take for him to walk to New York and then to Mexico.

Béliveau then plotted a walking trip around the world to help find himself. With only $4,000 in his pocket, Béliveau left his family behind and started his walk  on Aug. 18, 2000.  Béliveau’s world-wide walk, which is to raise awareness for peace and children without the use of financial donations, became even more challenging as he never plans ahead for where he will stay overnight.

He often walks into communities and looks for a friendly person who will let him spend the night in their house. If he can’t find anyone, he may go to the local police and ask to sleep in a jail cell or pitch his tent and camp out for the night.

He has been very successful finding places to stay in Western Canada, including Swift Current where a room at the Best Western Hotel was donated for him to spend a night.

Staying with random people who he did not know in 64 different countries has taught Béliveau a lot about the world and has changed him as a person.

“Sometimes people ask me if I've seen sad things in other countries,” said Béliveau. “Yeah, sure, but I learned a lot from them about values. When you're in homes in other countries and cultures, you see they have a very tight network and when they have problems they try to fix it with their own society and families. They are very near value sharing, love and spiritual sharing.

“We're relying more on materialistic values. I learned there are other values that we have to cultivate about us much more. I think it begins inside of you and you have to balance the two to walk through our lives and choose a better way to live for ourselves.”

Being away from his family for so long has changed Béliveau’s family values as well. He believes he is more caring for his wife, who joins him on his walks for a few weeks every year.

He has also become a grandfather of twice since he left Montreal. He has yet to meet his grandchildren, which keeps him motivated to continue walking with his three-wheeled buggy to get back home on schedule.

Béliveau hopes to finish his 75,000 kilometre trek Oct. 16.

Béliveau doesn’t expect the world to be different because of his trip, but he is hoping that the people he came in contact with during his trip have been affected just a little bit by his trip, just like he has been touched by the hospitality of people all over the world.

“If I change a little bit in the heart of people, then it's mission accomplished,” said Béliveau, who has gone through 51 pairs of shoes and three buggies on his trip.

“I think (my goal will be reached through the) exchange of things that I learned and give back to the world. I've been received in so many cultures that I can't tell something bad about them. I can't bite the hand of people who gave me food. I respect the other cultures and share with each other.

“We have all the same needs, love, and sharing. They need a roof and food and all these things. What's different is the culture and the territory.”

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