Under Armour has teamed up with Canadian Running to produce the Under Armour Diversity Series—an exclusive feature content series designed to highlight and promote individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to grow the sport of running, support those who are underrepresented and help others. The series will feature stories and podcasts highlighting these extraordinary Canadians who are making a difference in their communities and on the national running scene.
Tréchelle Bunn never considered herself a runner. Like many Canadians, the 22-year-old member of the Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation fell in love with hockey at a young age. Now a third-year student-athlete at the University of Manitoba, Bunn plays defence for the Bisons and says that she loathed having to run for conditioning training. It seemed unlikely, then, that she would find herself founding and directing a half-marathon. But in May 2021, when 215 unmarked graves were discovered on the former grounds of the Kamloops Residential School, she was compelled to take action.
Bunn has long understood the healing power of sport and movement. “I grew up with the teaching of using movement as medicine, so for me that’s always been a way to stay balanced on the four quadrants of the medicine wheel–so, using sport and movement to stay balanced physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” says Bunn. “Sport and being Indigenous make up who I am”.
In June 2021 Bunn organized a Healing Walk, starting at the grounds of the former Birtle Residential School and ending 26 km south, in her community of Birdtail Sioux First Nation. Many members of the community, including Bunn’s grandparents, were survivors of the Birtle Residential School. Bunn organized the event “to walk home in honour of all the children who were taken to residential schools and never got the chance to walk home on their own terms.” The following year, the walk evolved into the inaugural Reconciliation Run Half-Marathon that “brought together participants from across the country to run in the spirit of reconciliation and engage in reflection on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.”
The Healing Walk and Reconciliation Run have been deeply impactful for Bunn’s community. She points to the physical health benefits of getting people moving, as well as the opportunities for knowledge-sharing and intergenerational healing. She hopes that it will inspire other runs across the country: “to have this positive ripple effect going on for years to come is the most important thing to me, knowing that I’m making an impact in a positive way.”
Tréchelle Bunn is the recipient of the Student Community Builder Award at the 2022 Indigenous Awards of Excellence.