A large crowd gathered at Simms Park in Courtenay in June to hear speakers in support of Black Lives Matter as well as Indigenous people. A Comox Valley youth is now trying to raise funds to support the cause through a run. Record file photo

Vancouver Island youth starts virtual race against racism

Comox Valley’s Cailyn Collins says people can take part in the cause from anywhere

Cailyn Collins, a 16-year-old from the Comox Valley, was moved by recent protests against racism and wanted to help.

At the same time, she’s been an avid runner, so she is putting one foot in front of the other to help raise funds to support organizations working to end racism.

She got interested after reading about examples of racism around the world.

“I was really frustrated with it, and I knew that I wanted to help and contribute in some way,” Collins says. “I decided to do a running event because I really love running.”

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She and her family are involved with the running community already, so she knew she could spread the word.

“I knew I would be able to reach a wide group of people, and it gets people active,” she says.

She’s calling it the Virtual 5k Race Against Racism, and she’s hoping others will join in, from the Comox Valley and beyond, this month. She is asking people to register and make pledges of $5 to participate, though they can donate more if they wish. People should commit to running their 5 km between Aug. 17 and 23. That’s part of why she’s hosting it online, with people signing up to do it, especially during a time when social distancing measures have put a damper on holding actual events in public.

“It’s a 5k – anyone can do run – you can run it or walk it,” she says. “Just create your own route…. It’s different from a normal race because people have freedom to do it whenever and wherever they want.”

Collins is planning on donating the funds to Black Lives Matter Canada, which includes Vancouver and Toronto, and Canada Helps’ Black Solidarity Fund.

She is hopeful she can get others to make a pledge and lace up for the cause, especially as this is her first time organizing a community event. She had taken part in events in the area such as recent climate marches, but this is a new experience.

“I’ve never actually started my own event,” she adds. “I thought I could do it myself, I guess.”

She has set up a website for the Race Against Racism, and says people can register to take part right up until the end of the event. They can take part from anywhere. She has had people from around Vancouver Island and even as far as Alberta planning to participate.

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mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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