'We run for our land': Spirit of Syilx Unity Run kicks off in Penticton to raise awareness about suicide and violence awareness

'We run for our land'

The Okanagan Nation Alliance began the 15th annual Spirit of Syilx Unit run in Penticton on Thursday afternoon, starting from the Syilx Nation Indian Residential School Monument.

The run takes place from snpintktn (Penticton) and travels to Christina Lake.

The ONA said they invite Syilx Nation and community members to come and connect or reconnect to the land, culture, and their ancestors as they put our footsteps on the territory.

"Run with friends, family and relatives in places our ancestors travelled," the ONA said in a press release.

"The goals of the Unity Run are suicide and violence prevention within the nation; to promote positive cultural identity and pride; to promote individual, family and community wellness and connect to our territory."

The Unity Run started in June 2009, as a response to Indigenous youth requesting to come together and find a way to raise awareness about suicide and violence in their communities.

"This event allows the ONA to engage with the youth in the community, provides a significant opportunity to reach the ever-growing number of youth among the eight member communities and hearing what issues are important to them."

During the multi-day event, over 140 and 200 Okanagan Nation members will come together to run, with a minimum of 100 partakers joining for the entire event.

The ONA said that based on the previous years, the average age of runners will be in between the ages of 14 and 18, with the youngest runner being five and the oldest in their 60s.

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