Kelly Paul and two other runners of the Heliset Hále Marathon arrived on the West Shore by canoe on Tuesday. The run is intended to raise awareness of First Nations suicide

Kelly Paul and two other runners of the Heliset Hále Marathon arrived on the West Shore by canoe on Tuesday. The run is intended to raise awareness of First Nations suicide

Run to raise awareness of First Nation suicides ends Friday, National Aboriginal Day

Marathon across Vancouver Island hits Greater Victoria, ends on Saanich Peninsula



Kelly Paul’s Heliset Hále Marathon journey, which wraps up today at Tsartlip First Nation, really started about four and a half years ago, when Paul’s 17-year-old brother, Isaac Paul, took his own life.

“I just wished, I never ever wanted anybody else to go through this or see this happen to them,” Paul said. “We’re just trying to create other support systems, to let people know what’s out there for them, that they’re not along going through this. …

“I do believe he goes with us everywhere we go. Same with our ancestors. They’re our strengths and support.”

The Heliset Hale Marathon has Paul along with fellow Tsartlip member Bernice Smith, and John Sampson of the Tsawout First Nation, running from tip to tip of Vancouver Island.

The three runners headed out from Port Hardy on May 18, running from community to community, stopping to talk to First Nations reservations and various schools about the purpose behind their trip. They have been averaging about 15 to 27 kilometres per day.

“It’s a long road,” said Sampson.

The run is to raise awareness for suicide prevention and to bring up a topic the participants believe isn’t discussed enough.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for First Nations youth and adults up to 44 years of age, according to a Health Canada study from 2003. The rate for First Nations males is 126 per 100,000 people, compared to 24 per 100,000 people for non-Aboriginal males.

“Suicide has been kind of a quiet thing, we haven’t spoken about it too much in our communities,” Sampson said. “It’s kind of pushed under the carpet.”

“It’s a healing journey for me, but it’s also a healing journey for many other people, so they’re wanting somehow just to be connected to this,” Paul said. “It’s been a great response from everyone.”

The group arrived in the West Shore on Tuesday, by canoe at Goldstream Boathouse, due to safety concerns about running over the Malahat.

From the marina, the crew received a police escort to West Shore Parkway, where they once again took to the road to run to Songhees First Nation. A community run for the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations took place later in the day.

The paddle to Goldstream gave the group a chance to catch up with family and friends.

Tsartlip Chief Ivan Wayne Morris had even more reason to take part. His 26-year-old son, Wayne Morris, Jr., committed suicide just under two years ago.

“My family is all real enthused to be here and just be a part of it, have some kind of comfort in what this journey’s all about,” Morris said.

He said through his role as Chief he has seen how widespread the problem of suicide in First Nations communities is, and how much need there is for help and healing.

“We need to come together to find some solution to address that, because questions are in my mind yet, as to what happened. I have no answers,” Morris said. “The only way I would’ve got some answers is to talk to my son, and I can’t do that. That’s a hard thing for all of us. That’s why we’re taking part.”

Some recommended websites for those dealing with mental health problems are yourlifecounts.org and cmha.ca. The contact number for the Pacific Region First Nations and Inuit Health is 1-866-225-0709, toll free.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Debra Sheets, a University of Victoria nursing professor, is starting Victoria’s first Memory Cafe program for adults with dementia and their caregivers. (Photo: Debra Sheets)
Memory Cafe Victoria hopes to connect local dementia community

Adults with dementia and their caregivers will participate in weekly Zoom socializing and activities

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read