Running to awaken the spirit on the Saanich Peninsula and beyond

Tsartlip First Nation member to run 535 kilometers to help raise awareness of suicide prevention

Kelly Paul of the Tsartlip First Nation (front

Kelly Paul is running two or three times a week, swimming and practising yoga to ensure her entire body gets a good workout.

She knows that’s going to be important when she embarks on a major journey from one end of Vancouver Island to the other this May.

Paul, from the Tsartlip First Nation on the Saanich Peninsula, is getting ready to run 535 kilometers from Fort Rupert at the north end of the Island, back to the Peninsula — all between May 17 and June 21 this year.

Called the Heliset Håle Marathon, Paul wants to raise awareness of suicide prevention on Island first nations communities.

To raise interest and support in her effort, she and some friends ran between the Peninsula’s first nations communities on March 28.

“It’s going to be a healing journey,” Paul said after arriving at the Tsawout nation in Central Saanich.

Paul’s own family suffered a tragedy when her brother committed suicide four years ago.

Paul said no one knew he had been contemplating it and that’s a barrier she wants to see broken down.

“People need to be able to reach out to someone,” she said. “To reach out and be heard and to find support and caring for what it is they are going through.”

Her marathon will take her to many first nation communities in places like Sayward, Campbell River, Qualicum Beach, Duncan and more. Paul will visit high schools and middle schools as well, encouraging youth to celebrate life, inspire hope and reconnect with each other to embrace healing.

Paul said part of the journey will be to raise money for a community and activity centre in her community — a place where youth can enjoy cultural and sporting events. Paul said she has been involved with sports, especially soccer, for years and has helped her deal with the more stressful parts of life.

It’s through activities such as these she said she believes creates healthy individuals and then, healthy communities that can lend support to people contemplating suicide.

“We need to be able to share with others,” she said, “to connect with each other and share our strength and support for those who are thinking about taking their own life.

“Reach out, share that. We are all family and we are all connected.”

Paul’s Heliset Håle Marathon is set to start May 17 and end on June 21 back on the Saanich Peninsula.

To learn more and to support Paul’s efforts, visit www.helisethalemarathon.com, or call the marathon project co-ordinator, Bonnie Joe, at 250-652-9101, ext. 330.