When I decided to run the 30 km Around the Bay Road Race, I knew without a doubt what I’d be running for: to raise funds for the construction of a new language immersion school on Six Nations.
I’ve been following the lives and journey of Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo staff and students since the mid-2000s and the thought of such a unique school has always intrigued me.
But the learning quarters of the students and staff has been less than ideal as they’ve shifted from one makeshift building to another.
Currently, the K to 12 students of the language immersion school are housed on the second floor of the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.
School staff, parents and community volunteers have been working tirelessly to raise an estimated $17 million to build a stand-alone school beside Six Nations Polytechnic on Fourth Line Road, where land has already been designated for the much-needed school.
But government funding has proved difficult to obtain.
That’s why I decided my 30 km Around the Bay Road Race would be dedicated to raising funds towards the construction of a new Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo school building.
And I am thrilled and very grateful to the Albert Group for providing one of the largest donations to the fundraiser.
The company gifted $500 towards the fundraiser, which I plan to continue in various forms even though the race is over.
“I’ve been involved with language development in the community since 1983 and so the move to revitalize the language is more than important,” said Claudine Van-Every Albert, of the Six Nations-based, family-owned accounting business Albert Group of Companies. “I just think that any support that we can get is very helpful in terms of bringing the languages back alive again. It’s getting better. It’s important to support these initiatives.”
Sunday’s run was an epic adventure in miserable weather but none of the participants bowed out.
My fellow runners Brenda Mitten, Kris Davis and Joel Kennedy, of Oneida, braved the cold wind, hills and flurries around the Hamilton bay at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning testing our resolve to see this challenge through to the end.
Mitten and Davis ran the 5 km race while Kennedy and I ran 30 km. Since 2015, when Kennedy began running, he has lost 150 lbs and went on to start participating in marathons, which are 42.1 km.
His achievements are nothing short of inspirational. In 2016, Kennedy also started the Indigenous Running Club based in London, Ont. Last October, he participated in the Chicago marathon.
This year, he will be running in the most prestigious marathon in the world – the Boston Marathon, as a charity runner.
He completed the 30 km Around the Bay Road Race in 3:42:17. I finished at a personal best of 3:19:26.
Mitten completed her 5 km with a time of 48:57 and Davis finished her 5 km run with a time of 37:04.
Congratulations to all the runners and let’s get more Six Nations runners out next year and raise more money for our favourite causes!
Left to right: Brenda Mitten, Joel Kennedy, Donna Duric, Kris Davis