Time is running out to register for the inaugural Rainforest Trail Run, a five-kilometre run and festival in Burnaby created for people in local Indigenous communities and open to everyone.
The run is being held Sunday morning at Swangard Stadium in Central Park, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish People. Acknowledging where it’s taking place is an important part of why it’s taking place.
Indigenous coaches and leaders have promoted running and walking in it within their communities. A public festival at the finish line featuring music, food and art celebrates the heritage of Canada’s Indigenous culture.
The event marks the first anniversary of the award-winning Indigenous Sport Gallery at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, which walks visitors through some of the most important contributions to sport by First Nations athletes and coaches.
And the event is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which makes five calls of action related to sports, said organizer Dr. Doug Clement, a founder of The Vancouver Sun Run and president of the Achilles International Track and Field Society.
Clement said he has learned a great deal about the impacts of colonization on Indigenous Peoples and communities, and the event is meant to honour them while informing people about some of their history.
“These issues are not something we’ve been taught about in our education, but I think it’s our responsibility to learn more about the Indigenous component that has been here for thousands and thousands of years,” he said.
The First Nations Health Authority, which is a partner for the event, has sent trainers to First Nations communities and helped bring more runners to the event, Clement said.
Organizer Dr. Rosalin Miles said the run promotes health but also promises to be part of a fun event that celebrates “coming from one place.” She will run with family and friends.
“Having an event that attracts truth and reconciliation right now is really important in Canada and B.C.,” said Miles, a research associate in Indigenous Studies in Kinesiology at the University of B.C. “Bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together in physical activity is really important for holistic health and wellness.”
Jason Beck, curator of the hall of fame, worked with colleagues for two years to build the Indigenous Sports Gallery, which helped establish the attraction as a leader in promoting Indigenous health, wellness and sport. Beck said the hall of fame helped organizers with research for the event and will bring some artifacts to the event.
He is keen to support the event and run Sunday.
“Working on this gallery, we really became aware of the challenges that some Indigenous communities are facing with health and wellness,” he said. “We thought it was important to support that.”
More details can be found at rainforesttrailrun.com. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Friday.