April 18, 2017
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.