Don't look back: First Nations athletes learn what's behind the Lance Run
Lance Run stops in Saskatoon on the way to Meadow lake
Kailey Sylvestre jumped at the chance to be apart of an annual lance run when first heard about the event.
Two people from the Meadow Lake Tribal Council had come to her school in Meadow Lake to talk about the lance run — where runners bring a feathered lance, relay-style, from the previous hosting community to the next.
"I knew I wanted to go first thing," Sylvestre said. "Everything my parents told me about the cultural stuff that you learn along the way, meeting new people and just learning about your culture and spirits and everything.
"I have learned so much, it's amazing."
The Flying Dust First Nation is hosting the 2019 Tony Cote Summer Games and along with it comes the chance for their youth to take part in the annual Lance Run. It began Monday with a ceremony at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.
Sylvestre, 15, is one of 22 young athletes taking part in the run this year.
The athletes ran to Chamberlain and on Tuesday made it to Kenaston before stopping Wednesday in Saskatoon.
They head out on the Yellowhead Highway where they will go to Maymont on Thursday. The run stops in Cochin on Friday before arriving in Meadow Lake on Saturday.
The Tony Cote Summer Games will welcome the lance runners at the games' opening ceremonies in Flying Dust on Sunday.
They will have run about 565 km over those days. Along the way the athletes learn about the respect, protocol and tradition behind the Lance Run.
Triston Mirasty, a 16-year-old from Meadow Lake, is another Lance runner.
You have to stay focused when it's your turn to run with the lance, he said.
"When I'm running with the lance I can't look back or we have to stay the night there," Mirasty said. "You can't stop running (with the lance). You have to run on the spot when you are switching."
Sylvestre said it has been an eye-opening experience.
"When you are running with a boy and he's holding the lance, and you look to the side, you can see animals looking at you. Following you as you are running," she said. "Birds in the sky, hawks looking at you while you are running."
Sylvestre said talking with an elder along the way has given her a lot to think about.
"He has so many stories and lessons that he teaches us along the way. ... Different things that we didn't know until we started talking to him," she said.
"He tells us stories about the land, how sacred it is to the games, and how honoured he is to be here and share everything he can with us."
Both Sylvestre and Mirasty will also take part in the games next week. Mirasty is playing softball at the games while Sylvestre will compete in javelin, shot put and the discus throw.