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Indigenous runners commemorating Port Alberni Residential School victims

11-kilometre Esquimalt loop being run six times plus one final kilometre to commemorate 67 missing children
Sasha and Melissa Perron ahead of their run on May 4. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

A group of Indigenous runners are running 67 kilometres to commemorate the 67 unmarked graves found at the Port Alberni Residential School.

The 11-kilometre loop around Esquimalt will be run six times on May 4 by Sasha Perron, a Langford resident and Da’naxda’xw First Nation member, with a large group coming together to run the final kilometre. Perron’s mother and aunts attended the Port Alberni Residential School.

“The public’s pretty engaged. But I felt that especially for us, I wanted to be able to show and act and create something to show my family that we’re supporting them and that’s where we get our strength from and where we inherited it from. So this is a demonstration that we’re still here, we’re still strong and that we want to keep raising awareness and keep some momentum and bring people together to start conversations.”

Perron ran 216 kilometres in 2021 to commemorate the 215 whose unmarked graves were discovered next to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, plus a kilometre for those still not found.

READ MORE: Sasha Perron completes multi-marathon run in Victoria for residential school victims, survivors

He was joined on the Esquimalt run by Melissa Perron, who said while personally emotions were running high she thought it was important to keep conversations going.

“It doesn’t happen in a day. We can’t work through something so big – over 150 years of hurt – in a day. So it’s going to be probably a longer process. There’s gonna be a lot more dialect and more conversations that need to happen so that we can kind of come back together as one.”

READ MORE: Probe into former Alberni residential school resets the death toll at 67


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