April 18, 2017

Witness



What can an ultra runner born into privilege do to participate and support in the cause of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada?

I felt that question was in many minds when I started talking about joining young Cree leader Theland Kicknosway on his journey between Ottawa and Kitigan Zibi to give a voice to the Stolen Sisters. It was probably asked around in my circles, and likely in Theland’s as well. See, at first glance, him and I don’t have much in common.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Symbolically, the journey Theland and I shared last week is a metaphor of a much broader situation in Canada, and probably the world over. Different backgrounds, different upbringings and even a different generation were all seemingly reasons for us not to have anything to share. But here’s where the beauty starts to operate.

We have much more in common than we have differences, when anyone looks past the surface. Theland, at a very young age and I’m sure thanks to the guidance of his parents, has an amazing grasp of a great truth; we are all related. Connected with the spiritual world, he is sensitive to messages, symbols and visions that can guide our lives. Open to others, he has a deep empathy for the suffering and the challenges of his fellow Humans and wishes to have an active response to show his support.

Expressed in a different way and at a later time in life, these values are part of my journey, too. I have been awakened to the importance of connection through my adventures in the running world and I have been lucky enough to be initiated to ancient cultures which hold a wealth of knowledge and wisdom our world desperately needs. I feel deeply for the people and the challenges they face, and I want to serve and support them as best I can.



So I offered to join my steps to his. We would travel a great distance together, voice demands of justice for the Indigenous Sisters who have paid with their lives the inequity of a broken system, and create a bridge between worlds too often depicted as separated, different, apart.

I have had the immense privilege of being welcomed in Theland’s world and family circle, from sharing our food to our prayers in the circle ceremonies we would hold every morning. I have shared the tobacco offerings, the smoke of the sacred sage and sweet grass, and I have been allowed to speak and share as a member of the community. We have laughed, struggled, cried, feared, hoped and endured together.


Along the way, I have been made a witness to the vibrant Native culture that happens every day in the world, and I have been generously taught in these ways by people who would have had every reason to refuse this knowledge to me. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am a son of the oppressor and I do not stand for what has been done before. There are too many people out there today pretending to speak in my name, and to represent me. They don’t. My presence at Theland’s side was a physical and spiritual demonstration that I, and all of you who supported this journey, we, stand on the side of truth, justice, fairness, inclusion, empathy, kinship and connection.


We stand with Theland.








In this space, I would like to acknowledge the generous support of Mas Korima, who provided all the running food Team Theland needed for the journey, plus another living proof that actions are taken all over the world to bridge Native cultures and celebrate their knowledge.

Thank you Julie Hallé, The Dragonfly, for your unwavering support, for your dedication, for showing me the way and for being such an amazing Human being. I am honored you choose to share your life with me.

Thank you to CCC Running Club, and specifically Marc Langevin, for your amazing involvement through kind words and the organization of a spirit run in support of Theland and the cause of #MMIW.

Thank you Jacques Aubin, Jack, my friend, for your personal and logistical support, for believing, and for embodying the change our world needs.

Thank you to Enduroforce for providing its maple-based tonics which helped us stay alert and energized along the way.

Thank you to Touch, for their anti-chaffing stick, cream and lip balms which effectively protected us from the ubiquitous sand and dust.

Thank you Garmin, for the bags and hats.

Thank you Marc Séguin, Éveric Lauzière, Caribou Legs / Brad Firth, Steve Martin, Isabelle Aubouy, Noel Paine, Augusto Gamero, Kelsey Conner, Michael and Kimberly Miller, Donald Audet, Samir Znifeche, Philippe Gendreau, Norbert Blobel, Erik Buzzard, Shaun Martin, for reaching out personally to Theland, sending good wishes and thoughts and showing we are many.

Thank you Running People of the world for all the kind words, the encouragement, the photos and the shout-outs along the way.



April 11, 2017

Run with Theland : Hashtag Campaign


I’m headed west tonight to meet up with Theland and his family, and finally get ready to start the run. A lot of you have shown support in many ways, and still I get asked how runners and supporters can help. Here’s a couple ways :


- Join The Dragonfly and CCC Running Club for Montreal’s South Shore (Boucherville) 5k run/walk in support for Theland and the cause of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Thursday night at 7:00pm;

- Donate to Families of Sisters in Spirit through Paypal, using the button below;

- Run or walk for Theland and publish a selfie with the hashtag #TeamTheland

Show your support for a young leader whose example is noticed in Native communities, in Canada and far beyond. As I humbly follow in his footsteps, I will make sure he sees your messages and pictures.

Join #TeamTheland with us!













April 3, 2017

Run With Theland : A Story of Leadership, Connection and Hope

Early morning, this April 12, I will join in the footsteps of an amazing young man whom I care for and respect very much, Theland Kicknosway. Our paths have joined and we will run together to acknowledge my friend's leadership, to celebrate connection and to create hope.

Theland Kicknosway is a young hero from the Cree / Potawatami Nation of Canada. Since an early age, he was exposed to the tragedy of Indigenous women disappearing from their community and he was deeply concerned by the fate of their orphaned children.

Being close to his roots and traditions, he looked to his ancestral culture for answers, which came in the form of a dream; he had to travel long distances by foot to raise global awareness and shed light on the Human crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

At the age of 11, he undertakes a 134 km crossing, on foot, covering the distance between Ottawa and the village of Kitigan Zibi. He took his first step at the site where a 7-month pregnant young woman, Kelly Morrisseau was found assassinated in December 2006 and culminated his journey at the house of Bridget Tolley, an Algonquin activist who co-founded Sisters in Spirit and whose mother was fatally hit by a police vehicle in October 2001. All along the way, he stopped to honor the memory of many more Indigenous women, mothers, aunties and sisters who had disappeared, and to raise awareness about the fate of the children who were left behind.



Theland “Walks in a good way”, in his own words, to remind these children that they are not forgotten, and not alone. His actions preserve the memory of these women gone without a trace, too often overlooked by authorities, and his steps give a voice to those who have lost it so that they never fade into forgetfulness.


Theland and I upon our first meeting,
at Pandora 24-hour Ultra last year
The following year, he made the journey again in the opposite direction, from Kitigan Zibi to Ottawa, to continue his campaign and spread his message even further. His role as a leader was recognized and acknowledged all the way to the Canadian Parliament, where he was given the honor of leading Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet to be sworn in at Rideau Hall in November 2015.

This April 12, Theland Kicknosway will again undertake the journey from Ottawa, with a renewed determination following the announcement of a federal inquiry into the disappearing and murder of Indigenous women in Canada. I will join him and share the effort, in humility and as a display of respect for his vision and leadership.

I am very grateful to Mas Korima for supporting us with all the food we will need for the crossing, as well as following us on Twitter and Facebook along the way with updates and live feeds.

Runners and allies of the cause are invited to show their support by sending funds, by standing along our route, by sending messages or by joining us for segments of the crossing. These women are our family and this cause concerns us all as a community. Let’s join our voices and our steps to those of Theland Kicknosway!

To support Theland's run for MMIW :