A couple of months ago I received a message on Facebook from a guy I’d never even heard of. He’d seen something I posted somewhere and from that, he looked me up. Of course, I’d joked that his initial check out was an actual ‘checking me out’.
We laugh about that now, but regardless of the original motivation for reaching out to me, it would be a turning point for the both of us while we were both in the midst of working out some next steps in our own shook-up lives. We’d soon instead be working together for causes near and dear to our hearts.
What we’d learn about each other was that we shared a lot of common history. That our family backgrounds were very similar, the same path of so many of our Indigenous families who’ve been lost to our cultures. Those that then coped with addictions to drugs and alcohol which lead to abuses in every form.
We also learned we both often speak out against the issues of the domestic violence in our communities and more recently, on behalf of the continental issue of our missing and murdered Indigenous women.
He is an ultra-marathon runner originally from a First Nation in the Northwest Territories. His name is Brad Firth, but his public persona is ‘Caribou Legs’, a name bestowed on him by a family member in comment to his stupendous running ability.
Brad’s history is quite storied as it is, but he continues to add many amazing and adventurous pages to that book. He’s currently doing that by running across Canada, in stints of 50 kms to 75 kms per day and alone with only a backpack, a small hand drum, and his face decked out in warrior paint.
When Brad contacted me, he’d already started his run from Vancouver, BC heading east planning ultimately to finish his run in St John’s, Newfoundland, a journey of 7,419 km. I was astonished to learn that he had no support. There was no vehicle following or anyone waiting to meet him at any point, and in fact, he wouldn’t even know where he might be sleeping at the end of a long running day. He’d actually spent some nights on fields next to the highway, in broken down, but open abandoned barns and even old vehicles. Wherever there was cover from the elements – which many times included heavy storms and severe hail – was good enough.
As far as Brad was concerned, this was just par for the course. He’d just decided one day that he was going to do this run to speak out for his sisters and mothers and daughters in his community. As compelling as that was, the point most dearest to his heart was that he wanted to honor the memory of his sister who had been killed in a domestic violence event the previous year.
I’m a mother. As most parents know, there’s an instinct that wants the best and most importantly, the safest avenues for anyone who comes under our wings. I also happen to have been an event planner for a great part of many of my roles in my corporate and volunteering worlds. To me this endeavor was awesome and noble, but for God’s sake, surely we could at least, keep him covered in a decent place at night. Brad initially laughed at my ‘softness’, but he relented.
More than that, when he entered Alberta, there was an influx of racism-based attention that included calling him into police as a danger, perhaps mentally ill and even a gunman. Safety was moved up the priority ladder.
So, at that time, while Brad wondered if I could help him out in general, I took it upon myself to contact media across the country and start a fundraising campaign for him to, at a minimum, get good enough meals, a safe place to sleep and to help supply him with what he’d need on the road from running gear to educational materials. Brad is often asked to speak with various groups and treatment centres along the way. And don’t worry, I will have the link to said fund at the bottom 😉
There is much more to the overall story which I will share in upcoming posts and actually, there will be links to Brad’s Facebook pages and other stories written about his amazing story so far.
I’m stopping at this point because there was a very unexpected turn in our journey this weekend when my involvement in this issue became much more personal. I learned that one of my own family members had gone missing and that there was an active police search open. It was surreal and even more unbelievable because this same family had already lost a woman a few years ago in a case made famous by the name Pickton. I’ll ask you to look that up rather than detail it now.
I made a short video about what transpired up to and since finding out the news that my cousin was missing. All that I’ve said so far, helps to make this video more understandable. I post that here as a main point for what I am writing here.
Her name is Tara Ashley Ferguson. She is missing from and/or around her home town of Grande Prairie, Alberta. Her family is completely in anguish looking for her and they ask anyone with any information to please call the RCMP regardless of location. The link to these details are also below.
July 31: Utterly and happily relieved to advise that Tara has been found and will be home soon.
The work for everything else continues…
Next scheduled post: August 12, 2016
http://www.plumfund.com/fundraising/cariboulegs I’d originally started a GoFundMe page, but when they started to have technical issues that included not forwarding the donations, I had to move the fund to another platform