Indigenous athlete runs to raise awareness of residential schools

Sasha Perron/Instagram
In November 2023, Sasha Perron completed his first Ironman.

After the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, a local Indigenous athlete wanted to take action to help raise awareness of the history.

Sasha Perron from the Da’naxda’xw First Nation is a second-generation survivor of residential school, and his mother and grandfather were both sent to a residential school in Port Alberni.

“The discovery of 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops came out and I saw this young man in Kamloops, running and starting a fundraiser for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and he asked people to join him, and I wanted to show my family some support and I believe action, when there’s no word sometimes, that action is a show of your passion,” Perron said, appearing on podcas tOur Native Land.

“Running is painful. It might not be as painful as their experience, but I wanted to put myself through something and try and process everything that we’re hearing over the news.”

Perron started a journey to run one kilometre for every unmarked grave discovered.

“In school, you grew up and you go to these different events with your parents or your family, and maybe I just didn’t quite understand the gravity of residential school until everything came out and now the different ways that your family member works through throughout the trauma,” he said.

“And so I wanted to bring in people to come and show survivors that we’re here for them and we’re doing something.”

Following that initial journey, Perron has taken that and continued his journey running and raising awareness at different events.

He ran the Victoria Marathon, Hawaii Marathon, then in November last year ran an Ironman.

When people see him running, Perron says he hopes it makes people feel like they can do difficult things.

“I want them to feel that they can do it just on their own capabilities and that you may not think you’re able to, but if you believe and have the right people around you and the right support and the right mindset to get you out that door, it starts with incremental habits,” Perron said.

Watch the full episode of Our Native Land below:

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