Students from five Okanagan Nation Band Schools in the Okanagan Nation Alliance united at theOutma Sqilx’w Cultural School for its fifth annual Moccasin Mile event
“It went smooth and every year it gets bigger and better,” said OSCS advisory committee member and organizer Karolyn Bonneau, who added the people from the schools don’t always get a lot of chances to get together. “Everyone looks like they are having a good time.”
Hosted by the Penticton Indian Band, the event welcomed schools from Vernon, Westbank, Oliver and Keremeos.
Originally started to promote running and wellness, an obstacle course for younger kids was added last year. Bonneau said there is talk to add training for the students leading up to event, similar to Vancouver Sun Run programs and they are looking to allow adults to participate. The idea is to make it more of a community event.
“I like how everybody gets geared up. The school starts talking about it at the end of September,” she said. “I like how they are looking forward to it. I like the energy.”
Bonneau said that running has always been part of their history, mentioning that communities would rely on their fastest runners to deliver messages or go on supply runs.
“We are naturally inclined to run,” she said.
Grade 6 Outma student Sahia Montgomery said the 1.6-kilometre (one mile) run was easy because she trained leading up to it. The hard part was the hills.
“I like running,” said Montgomery. “It’s calming. It’s fun running with everyone.”
Elijah Swan-Hill of Sanpoquin in Oliver was exhausted after his eight minute and 57 second run.
“I tried my best,” he said, with sweat sitting on his face. “All that matters is having fun. It gives you lots of energy.”
Gracianah Gallicano of Outma said it was a hard race, harder than last year.
“It’s pretty cool. I think it’s good for people to learn how to run and be healthy,” she said.
The fastest male was Marcus Adam-Phillip, who crossed the finish line in 6:40, while Lilian Marchand was the top female in 7:10. Both received a pair of moccasins, while Adam-Phillip will also have his name engraved on the trophy that sits in a glass case visible to everyone in the school.
“That will be awesome,” said Adam-Phillip, who was excited to win. “I just like running and how it feels after.”
The event also received donated time by Okanagan Priority One Trauma at first aid stations to look after the students if needed.