“A smile doesn’t think money” Jean Béliveau

On his 45th birthday on 18 August 2000, at 9.00am, Jean Béliveau left his family behind to undertake a mission—to walk around the world through all 5 continents. At the time, his partner Luc invited the media to witness and chronicle this ambitious undertaking. Nobody showed up. A few days ago I met and interviewed Jean for my weekly radio programme, Voices from the North. At the time of our meeting Jean had worn out 49 pairs of shoes, personally met four Nobel Peace winners (including Nelson Mandela) and logged over 70,000 km on foot during his journey dedicated to the UNESCO Decade, 2001-2010: the INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE FOR THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD.

A film About the Peace Walker

He had already crossed the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia before landing in New Zealand in October. He was in Mangonui on a rest day before embarking on his last four days of walking to bring him to Cape Reinga and the completion of the international phase of his walk. He will then fly with Air New Zealand to Vancouver to reunite with his family and begin the final 5,000 km phase of his pilgrimage across Canada to his place of origin in Montreal.

When Jean Béliveau arrives in Vancouver in a few days the media will show up. He’s a celebrity of sorts in Canada now and the whole country will be watching as he makes his way on foot across the country. He shares his name with a Canadian hockey legend and his journey will surely take his fellow Canadians back to another legendary journey on foot by the late great Terry Fox.

“I feel like the walk is not my walk anymore. It is the walk of humanity, of these people who came with me in hope of a better world.”     ~Jean Béliveau

In our hour long interview Jean shares the story behind his walk. He readily admits it may have started out as an escape from an unfulfilling life in business. As he says: “I played the game. It left me empty.” His ten years of walking around the planet has filled that emptiness with purpose. He has found his mission. He couldn’t return to a life of materialism after this. He no longer defines the undeveloped world as poor. “Africa time” and the immense smiles of the so-called impoverished of that continent showed him there’s so much more to life than the increasingly internationalized ‘American Dream’ of material prosperity. As Jean said to me; “A smile doesn’t think money.”

I encourage you to visit the brand new website exploring the entire world wide walk of Jean Beliveau. The stunning website—filled with some of the 6,000 photos Jean has taken along the way—was kindly donated by someone Jean met on his pilgrimage.

This walk which began so quietly in Montreal in August 2000 has taken on a life of its own. I hope the happy, fulfilled walker I met will be able to retain his integrity and humility in the months and years ahead. I believe he will. And along the way he will inspire many others to follow their dreams and contribute to a world of true meaning and peace. It has been my great pleasure to meet Jean Beliveau. 

For the complete inspiring interview click below:


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

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