Jul 18, 2019
The Inaugural run took place from Smithers and Prince Rupert to Terrace, along Highway 16
Forty-eight relay runners took part in passing a deerskin scroll that carried a message of hope for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women along Highway 16.
Two relay runs were held simultaneously along Highway 16 on June 21st. One started in Smithers at 5:00 AM, with the other beginning in Prince Rupert at 9:00 AM. In Prince Rupert, the run started with a blessing and prayer, and included a smudge led by Symbia Barnaby to provide protection for the runners.
The Tears to Hope Relay Run was one of 130 events and initiatives supported through the FNHA Indigenous Peoples Day of Wellness grants for 2019.
Together, both relay routes covered more than 400km, with each runner doing 10 km of the route before passing the deerskin scroll to the next runner. At each checkpoint a photo of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman or girl was displayed along with the messaging "She is Somebody".
The runners felt the support from members of the communities located along the route, as well as from passing vehicles. The local First Nations radio station, CFNR, also provided support and updates on the relay run as it progressed.
Timing was critical for both legs of the relay to meet on June 22 in Terrace. The Tears to Hope Relay Run concluded with a half-kilometer walk of solidarity to George Little Park that included drummers and singers. At the park, co-founders of the relay, Lorna Brown and Birgitte Bartlett, shared the messages of hope written on the deerskin scrolls. Words were also shared by Michèle Audette, Commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The Tears to Hope Relay Run event ended with a moment of silence.
In addition to the FNHA and CFNR, the Tears to Hope Society had assistance, support and partnership from the following organizations and businesses: Aboriginal Buzz, Central Mountain Air, Northwest Fuels, Visionwriter, Kermode Friendship Society, SportMedBC, and Hollie Bartlett.
A group came together for a prayer before the run started in Prince Rupert led by Audrey Barton and Clarance Nelson.
A family of runners included a 16 year old and her dad running along for the first 5km and her mom running the second 5km with her.
Co-founder Lorna Brown taking the deerskin scroll from runner Stephanie Louie, with support from Mike Louie.
Community member, Gracie Holland, supported the relay runners with some drumming and singing at Witset.
(L-R) Denise Halfyard, Gracie Holland, Lorna Brown, Stephanie Louie
Olympian Lynn Kanuka-Williams completed the 'uphill climb' and shares an emotional hug with co-founder Birgitte Bartlett.
The Walk of Solidary included nearly 100 people. The group walked half a kilometer to George Little Park in Terrace.