Today, many of our coaches had orange shirts on. We even had some athletes wear orange.
We wore them to remember the 215 Indigenous Children who were stolen from their homes and were sent to the Kamloops Indian Residential School. They never got to go home. Last week, their remains were found in a mass grave on the grounds of the school.
215 children who never got to go home. Stripped of their childhood, dreams, their future. Thousands of Indigenous children never got to go home.
The Residential School system still has long lasting impacts on Indigenous Peoples and communities today. This is a part of Canada that we need to talk about.
Our hearts break for the Indigenous community and all those affected by the news that came out of Kamloops last week. #everychildmatters
We want to share with you the story of a decorated marathon runner, war veteran and residential school survivor. In our opinion, he isn’t talked about enough.
Tom Longboat was an Indigenous man from Six Nation Reserve, in Southern Ontario. He was one of the best marathon runners in the early 1900s and was a World War I veteran.
When he was 12, he was sent to the Mohawk Institute. It was a Residential School in Ontario. He hated it there. He tried to run away once and got caught, and then ran away again. He was successful.
He was fast. His mother didn’t believe how fast he was until he beat his brother in a race. His brother was on a horse and buggy with a 30 minute head start. He broke the Boston Marathon record in 1907 by 5 minutes.
He was incredible. But even though he was an incredible athlete, he was still treated poorly because he was Indigenous. He was called lazy because of his training method. He didn’t train like his competitors. He trained in progressions, slowly building up towards race day. He took rest days. He trained how athletes train today.
After all his success in running, the Mohawk Institute asked if he could speak at the school to inspire the kids. He said no.
In World War I, he was a dispatch runner.
“As the story goes, a British General during World War 1, led by a dispatch runner grew irritated by the pace led by his guide and ordered him to slow down. ‘For God’s Sakes! Who do you think I am? Tom Longboat?’ The dispatch runner slowed down and answered: ‘No sir, that’s me.” -Kidd
He survived the war and returned to Canada. They thought he died twice. He became a garbage collector, which he was ridiculed about, and passed away in 1949 after a short battle with pneumonia.
His Indigenous name was Cogwagee. We know him as Tom Longboat.
Written by Sylvia Masich, May 31, 2021