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Michael Yellowlees and his dog, Luna, complete 5000-mile trek across Canada for Findhorn-based rewilding charity Trees for Life


By Lorna Thompson

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A SCOTTISH musician has completed a 5000-mile trek across Canada to further a Findhorn-based charity's rewilding mission.

Political leaders in Canada and Scotland have praised the "astonishing feat" by Michael Yellowlees (32), from Birnam in Perthshire, who has spent nine months on the road with his faithful Alaskan husky, Luna, to raise money for Trees for Life.

Michael and Luna finally reached Canada's Atlantic coast yesterday.

Well-wishers gathered at the remote Cape Spear Lighthouse, in Newfoundland, as Michael reached the end of his epic mission. He has raised nearly £40,000 along the way.

Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau congratulated Michael for his "incredible walk".

He said: "Michael chose Canada for this mission due to the many Scots who left their homeland generations ago, settled here, and contributed significantly to the fabric of our country.

"He was also inspired by the many and vast, beautiful, natural environments Canada continues to enjoy and protect. Despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael for his inspirational adventure."

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who is Michael's local MSP, said: "I warmly congratulate Michael on the astonishing feat of endurance he has accomplished in support of a cause to which he is devoted.

"Michael has demonstrated the power of individual action to raise awareness of this vital issue of our day.

"His commitment to restoring our natural environment is an inspiration to us all."

Michael Yellowlees and dog Luna reach the end of their nine-month trek across Canada to raise money for Trees for Life.
Michael Yellowlees and dog Luna reach the end of their nine-month trek across Canada to raise money for Trees for Life.
Michael Yellowlees and dog Luna reach the end of their journey at Cape Spear, in Newfoundland.
Michael Yellowlees and dog Luna reach the end of their journey at Cape Spear, in Newfoundland.

Michael has Canadian roots and travelled to the country in 2020. While working with sled dogs before his trek, he befriended Luna, who would become his constant companion every step of the way.

Fear struck midway through the journey, however, when Luna vanished into the Canadian wilderness.

After a week-long search, aided by local volunteers, the two were joyfully reunited when Luna suddenly reappeared at Michael's side. She had chewed away her lead, which appeared to have become entangled in forest undergrowth.

Michael said: "Apart from that horrible scare, the journey through Canada has been amazing. And so too have the people.

"I've been marched into towns by pipe bands, applauded by crowds lining the streets, and inundated with offers of food, clothing and shelter.

"It has also been emotional. The huge population of people of Scottish descent in Canada is partly a consequence of the Highland Clearances, which were accompanied by ecological destruction.

"Canada is a beautiful land with an abundance of woodland and wildlife. This journey has been about raising awareness and funds to help restore the Scottish Highlands to a flourishing ecosystem as part of our contribution to tackling the twin global emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss."

Steve Micklewright, Trees for Life chief executive, described the duo's achievement as amazing. He added: "We want to say a huge thank you to Michael for walking across Canada for the last nine months and raising so much money for our work rewilding the Highlands.

"His journey is a powerful reminder that rewilding offers hope for tackling the nature and climate emergencies, while benefiting people and local communities."

Michael was delighted to receive a video message from Scottish entertainer Elaine C Smith, who told him: "You've done a wonderful, wonderful thing. It's just brilliant."

An exhausted Michael is now looking forward to a couple of weeks' rest. He added: "It really has been a magical year and experience."

Trees for Life volunteers have now established nearly two million native trees at dozens of sites in the Highlands.

To support Michael and Luna's epic fundraising drive, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michaelandlunarewild.


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