Group to run 215-mile relay in honor of Indigenous children

WELLPINIT, Wash. — In honor of the 215 Indigenous children, whose remains were found at Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada, a group will run a 215-mile relay across Washington state.

Danny Brigman, organizer of the event and member of the Spokane Tribe, said he came up with the idea for the relay after seeing people online running 2.15 miles to honor the children. He then started to wonder if he could do 215 miles if he ran with a sleeping bag.

However, he figured out he couldn’t do it in a weekend, so he looked for 7-8 others to join him and received a lot of support, turning it into a large event.

Starting Saturday, June 19, the relay will go from Wellpinit all the way to Nespelem, finishing on Sunday, June 20.

“Creating this event is important to me because the residential schools and boarding schools here in the U.S. are recent and people don’t realize it,” Brigman said.

His family knows the horrors of these schools all too well, because some went through the boarding schools, including two relatives who went to the same Kamloops school where the remains were found.

“This affects our families and our communities today,” he said. “Our elders lived through that trauma and we still see the effects of the trauma in our communities,” Brigman said.

Brigman described it as a historical wrong that he is not sure can ever be made right, but acknowledging all of the U.S.’s and Canada’s history, even the dark side, is a start. He added all of the schools need to be searched for remains so tribes and bands can find their people and bring them home, or let them rest where they are.

“I’m just hoping we can keep the conversation going and hoping my Spokane Tribal family and my Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc family would be proud,” he said.

Volunteers will wear orange shirts, which symbolizes children who had their identities stripped away when they went to the residential schools. Orange shirts are often worn on Orange Shirt Day, a statutory holiday in Canada that promotes awareness about children who went to residential schools.

Learn more about the relay here.