On August 13, Tamara Beardy left Tataskweyak Cree Nation and began an epic journey 905 kilometers south by foot. As she ran over the following 25 days, she carried with her a passion for running and a message focused on raising awareness about diabetes, kidney disease and other important issues faced by First Nations individuals.
Beardy was living with her family in Tataskweyak Nation in 2009, when her nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “I didn’t really know much about type 1 diabetes,” explains Beardy, a member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Engagement and Research Council (IPERC). “So I was trying to run around and find resources, but there was really nowhere to run to. Nobody could really give me any answers or give me any information. So I made the decision to relocate south to educate myself and family, and to be close to my daughter’s health team [in Winnipeg].”
After moving to Winnipeg, Beardy and her daughter participated in research projects on type 1 diabetes, and Beardy took on a role at the University of Manitoba, where she oversees the implementation of a program for diabetes prevention in youth. Shortly after moving south, Beardy also decided to rekindle her love of running – she had run in high school and aspired to complete a marathon.
Tamara Beardy, a member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Engagement and Research Council.
Since running her first marathon, the idea to run from Tataskweyak Nation to Winnipeg to raise awareness of diabetes has been “a desire and a vision that was placed in my heart for a long time,” says Beardy. “I chose to start from my community [of Tataskweyak] because that’s where the journey began, that’s where the diagnosis was.”
She invited all friends, family and community members to come together at the beginning of the run, which she named “All for One,” and kickstart the event in a relay style. Once the runners reached the outskirts of Thompson, she took the baton to complete the rest of her journey to Winnipeg. The run began with an initial ceremony and prayers, and each person was encouraged to dedicate their participation to whatever cause is affecting them, whether it be cancer, kidney disease, addiction, residential schools, or missing and murdered Indigenous women and men.
Beardy dedicated specific stretches of her run to specific causes. Notably, she is a living kidney donor to her sister and her cousin passed away from kidney disease, so large parts of the run were dedicated to those individuals and causes.