Napi’s Run 2023 for MMIW&M and Mother Earth
By Todd Eagle Child – Communication Officer
Blood Tribe Communications & Community Engagement
The Napi’s Run 2023 for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Men and Mother Earth started on April 12, 2023, in St. John’s Newfoundland. Johnny Bare Shin Bone – Staamiiksoosaak: Bull Back Fat, had a vision for the run while at a marathon run, he was attending in Victoria, BC. Johnny who is a seasoned marathon runner describes the vision he had, where he was in St. Johns Newfoundland and seeing the signs and terrain he would encounter while running across Canada.
“In my dream, I was in the St. John’s NL that night my dream lasted right through the whole night, it goes away and comes back, what I experienced in my dream was what I saw back there (pointing eastward from where they ran) there’s a whole bunch of trees and the rocks, the terrain and climate are totally different then here in Alberta”, said Johnny.
Johnny works for the Blood Tribe Recreation and Parks department he has been there for the past decade. Napi’s Run was put on hold for a few years due to COVID-19, but in the meantime the purpose for the run became evident in Johnny and his families lives as they lost loved ones to unsolved murders and fentanyl. The theme for Napi’s Run is to bring awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Men.
“My nephew got murdered in Calgary and that’s what got me going on this, you know when something happens to us nothing is done, nobody gets charged or anything and I just wanted to commemorate him and all the missing and murdered.”
Napi’s Run organizer Ramona Big Head, Akaistsiiskaakii, Many Sweat Lodge Woman is Johnny’s niece, and Vice-Principle at Cardston Elementary School. Ramona was told of his vision of running across Canada a few years ago. After losing her nephew she was taken to St. John’s, Newfoundland by Johnny to the Terry Fox Memorial. Fox also ran across Canada back in 1980 to raise money for cancer, his run was known as the Marathon of Hope. It was there where Ramona knew that this run was something she had to do, and she became the organizer and promoter of Napi’s Run 2023.
“Johnny actually took both myself and my sister Ivy Annie, to St. John’s NL, back in January and we went to the Terry Fox Monument and my uncle, and I sat there, and we smoked our pipes and prayed and at that point I knew I had no worries, it was going to happen”, said Big Head.
After the organization for the run was established, Napi’s Run team set off from St. John’s, Newfoundland their goal is to make it to Victoria, British Columbia by early July. As the purpose of Napi’s Run is to bring healing and awareness for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Men and for Mother Earth, each day starts off with a prayer and dedication to those who have lost their lives. The run is tough, with the team taking turns running and walking where they can average 80 kms a day sometimes less or more.
“This is my own healing journey as well getting out there and running in the middle of Manitoba nowhere Saskatchewan you know or just running along the highway and it’s really helped me to deal with my own personal grief in a real positive way”, says Big Head.
On day 69, June 19, 2023, the team was greeted at the Alberta and Saskatchewan border by members of the Low Horn family where they sang an honour song and helped the team make it to Medicine Hat. There the team was greeted by members of the Wakohtowin Eagle Society and the local news at the giant Saamis Tipi where they were treated to a feast.
Day 70, June 20, 2023, at the giant Saamis Tipi in Medicine Hat, the Napi’s Run team was greeted by members of the Blood Tribe where an honour song was sung, and a prayer given by Johnny. The run for Day 70 was dedicated to Clarissa English, Dakota English, Kyle Devine, Jackie Crazy Bull & Tamara Soosay, during the run/walk participants were encouraged to call on these beautiful Blackfoot souls to kindly guide them as they pay tribute to their memories throughout their journey. The families of the commemorated were on hand and prayers were given for them and their loved ones, especially for healing and gentleness to envelope their hearts.
Day 71, June 21, 2023, starting from Brooks, AB, Napi’s Run dedicated the walk to Rhonda Running Bird, Desiree Spotted Eagle-Old Woman, Fred Yellow Old Woman, Jeannette Wells & Kyle Scout. Napi’s Run will be in Siksika today and will end up at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park where a feast will be given in honour of the runners and all participants. Anyone is welcome to walk or run with the team, to follow Napi’s Run 2023 please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1123335458357166/ . Daily updates and dedications are given, everyone is welcome to walk or run with the team, please contact Ramona or Johnny for further details on the page.
(L to R) Johnny Bare Shin Bone – Staamiiksoosaak: Bull Back Fat, Shane Across the Mountain, and Leland English at the Saamis Tipi, in Medicine Hat, AB. On June 20, 2023.
(L to R) Johnny Bare Shin Bone – Staamiiksoosaak: Bull Back Fat, and the Blood Tribe Recreation & Parks Department at the Saamis Tipi, in Medicine Hat, AB. On June 20, 2023.
L to R) Johnny Bare Shin Bone – Staamiiksoosaak: Bull Back Fat, Families of Clarissa English, Dakota English, Kyle Devine, Jackie Crazy Bull, Tamara Soosay and Yvonne Crazy Bull, at the Saamis Tipi, in Medicine Hat, AB. On June 20, 2023.
Napi’s Run 2023 leaving Medicine Hat with a Medicine Hat Police Service escort on Trans-Canada Highway 1, on June 20, 2023.
Napi’s Run 2023 participants on Trans-Canada Highway 1, on June 20, 2023.