Run as One festival returns

·2 min read

The 18th annual Run as One festival was hosted in Siksika Nation at the Deerfoot Sportsplex last week, celebrating youth, community and togetherness within the nation.

As part of the Run as One festival, Siksika Health Services also brought back their annual youth conference alongside the entertainment for all audiences.

“This is just one of our Siksika Health event premiers that provides our community youth members with the opportunity to learn, connect and engage with partners and education, health and wellness,” said Braden Manybears, representing Siksika Health Services’ mental health department. “What youth can get out of our youth conference is we offer holistic health promotion, mental and physical health literacy, and we provide the youth in our community an opportunity to try new experiences in the form of arts, music movement and cultural activities.”

This year, the team planned a series of interactive and engaging mental health workshops with the objective being to give back to the community.

This year’s Run as One festival theme was “Pathways to Hope,” which Manybears explained was fitting for the timing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions being lifted.

“Our goal through our interactive workshops is to restore our relationship with Creator, his creations, ourselves and others,” said Manybears. “The goal is to promote connection – to instill the purpose and belonging to one’s well being.”

The festival and the mental health workshops were open to Siksika Nation members, both on and off the reserve.

Much of the target audience were high school summer students, to which Manybears suspected roughly 100 would be in attendance.

Run as One was formed in 2004 from a youth group who had a goal in mind to inspire folks within the community. Now, the festival stands and operates as the longest-running Indigenous music festival in Canada, and the youth conference has been allowed to grow and develop right alongside it.

This year, the youth conference was made to be more interactive and engaging than it had previously been, with intent to increase the impact among local youth and engagement with community members.

“Everyone being from the reserve, everyone knows everyone, we’re all connected in some sort of way and so it’s an opportunity for everyone just to kind of connect and really promote positive relationships amongst each other,” said Manybears.

Also among the programs made available during the conference, were a list of outside networks and agencies for attending youth to be made aware of and that may interest them, of networks not necessarily operating within the reserve.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times