This is a translation of an article published in Le Nord newspaper, who interviewed our friend Theland Kicknosway after he visited us at the Pandora 24 Ultra last week to share his message and his culture. He even made the front page :)
PRÉVOST - The organizers of the Pandora 24, a trail ultramarathon, have created the event with love and respect for nature. This is why, for this year’s edition, they have continued their tradition of sharing and connecting by inviting two members of the Cree Nation, Theland and Elaine Kicknosway, his mother.
Theland has run 134 km between Ottawa and Kitigan Zibi to raise awareness for missing and murdered native women. He attended Pandora 24 to carry his message, but also to share songs, drum beats and traditional dances. He is a Hoop Dancer, an ancestral art of dancing with colored hoops to tell small stories. He is 13 years old.
Theland Kicknosway’s mother, Elaine, is proud of her son’s achievements. She says he breaks the silence and sheds light on all these native women (Over 1,200 Native women have disappeared or been murdered in our country since 1980). She comes from a small Cree community in Northern Saskatchewan. Theland lives with his father and is a member of the Potawatami / Cree Nation of Walpole Island.
Elaine says Theland had a vision, when he was 9 years old, that he had to walk to raise awareness about the many children left behind and affected directly by the disappearance of the women. These children needed to know that he runs for them, so that they are acknowledged and can help one another. In Kitigan Zibi, each one of them has suffered the loss of a woman, disappeared or murdered.
«The race organization invited Theland and Elaine to share their culture and their message, which affects us all deeply. What Theland does goes straight to the heart of the Nation of the Running People because he runs great distances to carry this message», explains François Bourdeau, one of the runners.
Theland’s original idea was to run across Canada, «but at 10 years of age, that wasn’t safe.» After planning on running across Ontario, the young runner finally decided to run from Ottawa to Kitigan Zibi, close to Maniwaki. «This is a 4-year endeavor. There are 2 years left and, since the federal government has finally announced there will be a grand enquiry to begin this year, we will cover the same time period», says Elaine Kicknosway. She adds «as a young Native man who also experiences others’ perceptions, racism and often intolerance, he will have a lot to say at 16 years of age.»
A year after his first run, her son ran from Kitigan Zibi to Ottawa. François Bourdeau explains that performing the run in both directions creates a circle, which is an extremely important concept in Native culture. «You go around a circle. The first time you travel it, you learn. The second time around, you discover new things and you gain a better understanding», adds Elaine.
Theland has also participated in the Pandora 24 as a guest runner.