Monday, June 10, 2013

Heliset Hale

Got an email from my principal Friday night saying a group of First Nation runners who were on a run from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Victoria at the southern tip, and wanted to visit a class at my school on Monday.  I agreed of course and we had Kelly Paul of the Tsartlip First Nation, her fellow runners and their support team visited our First Nations 12 class today.  Kelly and her group are carrying a message to First Nations communities and schools along their route to cherish life and in so doing try to stop the suicides that have affected too many families - especially too many First Nations families.

The name of their journey is Heliset Hale, which is Salish for "awaken life within you".  Kelly and the other members of her group told the students of how suicides in their families had affected them.  They talked about the pain they see in the eyes of family members who lost a child, or brother or sister.  They talked about how the run had become a healing journey for them.  Kelly said that running had become part prayer for her - that her run was now a spiritual experience.

The Heliset Hale team then got my students up and moving and interacting with them.  There was laughter and questions and conversation.  They bonded with the students in a very short time.

This serendipitous meeting of the Heliset Hale runners and my students comes at the end of a semester learning about the effects of colonization, attempts to force assimilation through restrictive laws and of course the impact of residential schools.  While my students will forget many things about my class as time rolls on, today was one of those days that will stay with them.  They were touched deeply, as was I.

Go the Heliset Hale site here.

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