First Reconciliation Run an opportunity for reflection, learning

·3 min read

An Indigenous student and athlete is asking Manitobans and local schools to join her on Sept. 30, as she hosts the first Reconciliation Run and looks to get people moving in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.

Tréchelle Bunn, 22, is a member of the Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation, a community located about 50 kilometres north of Virden, and is also a student and athlete at the University of Manitoba, where she is studying Criminology and Indigenous Studies and is a member of the Bisons women's hockey team.

She said she first felt compelled to organize a walk after news broke in May of 2021 of the discovery of what is believed to be 215 unmarked graves near a former residential school in Kamloops.

“Much like the rest of the country when I heard about the 215 remains of Indigenous children uncovered at the former Kamloops residential school, my heart sank,” Bunn said.

“As an intergenerational survivor of the Canadian residential school system, the recoveries hit home for me, and I knew I had to do my best to ensure that the conversation surrounding the effects of the residential school system was ongoing.”

She said that in July of 2021 she organized a Healing Walk on behalf of her community, and the 26-kilometre walk began with a ceremony at the former Birtle Residential School and ended when the group arrived at the Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation.

“It allowed us to willingly and freely walk away from the school in honour of all the children who were denied the opportunity to walk away on their own terms, and for all those who never made it home at all,” Bunn said.

Bunn said after hosting the event in 2021, she realized that 26 kilometres is a similar distance to a half-marathon, so this year she has decided to host a similar event, but it is now dubbed the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Half Marathon and will also be referred to as Reconciliation Run.

The run, which has been sanctioned by the Manitoba's Runners Association, will take place on Sept. 30, which is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, a day meant to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities.

She said this year’s marathon will follow the same route as last year’s walk and she is now inviting local schools to find ways for their staff and students to take part in the run as well.

“I would like to personally invite you, your students, cross country and track teams, faculty and staff to participate in this historic event,” Bunn said.

“The Reconciliation Run will bring individuals across the country together while providing education and a meaningful event to partake in, on a day meant for reflection and learning.”

For information on the Reconciliation Run or to sign up, visit the event’s website at reconciliationrun.ca.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun