Thunder Bay

Lakehead grad plans cross-Canada run for First Nations water safety

Hasan Syed was shocked to learn that conditions in some communities are as bad as in his homeland of Pakistan.

Hasan Syed was shocked to learn that conditions in some communities are as bad as in his homeland

Hasan Syed will be at the Thunder Bay mosque March 31 at 8:30 p.m. to talk about his run. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

A Lakehead University nursing grad plans to start running across Canada next month to raise awareness of the lack of access to clean water on many remote First Nations.

Hasan Syed says he was shocked to learn that conditions on some reserves are as bad as in parts of his homeland, he said.

Syed and his family immigrated to Canada from Pakistan when he was 10.

"We came here for a better life, and it was granted to us, and it was nice," he said. "So it was like a fairy tale that I was living in."

But one day, as he was getting ready to graduate, someone mentioned to Syed that there are parts of Canada where conditions are worse than those of developing nations.

He was shocked when he looked into it, he said.

"It essentially shattered that ... fairy tale that I was living in, and I was very distraught. It took me a while to even process it," Syed said.

"It literally took me back to the country I immigrated from. Like then there's no difference between here and there."

He hates running

Until that point, he said, he'd assumed the life he had living in the city was the life afforded to all Canadians.

Syed's faith played a role in his decision to make the trek, he added.

"I feel like there's like God saying, 'ok I told you about this. Now what are you going to do about it?'" he said.

Syed has been athletic all his life, but he hates running, he said laughing.

He chose a sport he finds difficult because, "I want to be able to know that I'm worthy of working for this cause," he said.

Syed's team has reached out to Indigenous organizations, and they have "helped me develop a path toward doing this right," he said. 

"I'm brand new to this, so I'm still learning how to approach these situations and how to be respectable so I don't overstep any boundaries."  

Syed will be at the Thunder Bay mosque March 31 at 8:30 p.m. to talk about his run.

now