By James Wastasecoot
Peguis Central was among the schools who participated in the first annual Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC) Cross-Country Meet for First Nations students across Manitoba on Sept. 26, 2019. The 39 students from grades 5 to 8 ran a distance of 2 kms or 3 kms at Labariere Park near St. Norbert. Payton Sutherland, grade 5, came home with a bronze medal.
Hosted by Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, the meet was staged in partnership with Mahpiya Hdega School (Dakota Plains). The event was organized by Mike Thomas, Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS) Physical Education Facilitator.
“The idea came about after hearing about another youth suicide crisis in a First Nation,” he said. “It takes more than crisis intervention workers and counsellors to help these kids. We need to be proactive, not just reactive. We need to come together as a community and fix this in every way we can.”
Invitations were sent to all First Nations schools and 15 of them showed up, some as far away as Garden Hill and Cross Lake.
Thomas added: “This event is about giving children positive experiences to look forward to and participate in and to help balance their well-being.”
As the buses arrived, students in bright uniforms spilled out and soon race courses were set up, markers and spotters fanned out and then the races got under way. There were many close finishes and good competition among the schools. Cross Lake was a prominent school with a few students in the medals.
Following the races, the students gathered at the foot of the La Salle bridge for a group photo shoot. Then Thomas and co-organizer, Rocky McKay, Science Facilitator (Manitoba First Nations School System) called everybody together at a picnic table and handed out gold, silver and bronze medals to the winners in each category. Every participant received a sport water cup, compliments of the MFNSS.