After more than 900 kilometres, a Tataskweyak Cree Nation woman reached the finish line of a run across Manitoba to raise awareness about diabetes in Indigenous communities.
Tamara Beardy, who is a member of the northeastern Manitoba First Nation (also known as Split Lake), left the community on Aug. 13 on her awareness-raising run.
She finished Saturday at Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks in Winnipeg, flanked by family, a fellow runner and other supporters, including a large group of young people who a made the trip from Tataskweyak Cree Nation — about 125 kilometres east of the northern Manitoba city of Thompson — to Winnipeg to help her finish the run.
Tamara Beardy wraps up 900K run for diabetes in Winnipeg
Now Beardy and her family are running 900 kilometres from Tataskweyak Cree Nation (Split Lake), about 100 kilometres east of Thompson, to Winnipeg to raise awareness about diabetes and try to help others.
“It’s such a thing to take on something like this when you don’t have a big organization behind you,” said Beardy. “But you know what, my people are my organization — I’m very thankful for that.”
Her daughter, Kenya, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 11 years ago. The “scary” diagnosis made Beardy feel like she was going to lose her daughter, and she found it hard to access support in northern Manitoba, she previously told CBC.
“It’s not easy living with diabetes, being a caregiver. You don’t ever take breaks,” she said Saturday. “It’s challenging, so I have a heart for all illnesses and challenges that we face as people.”
Beardy now lives in Winnipeg and works with the University of Manitoba as a research co-ordinator, focusing on diabetes prevention in youth.
Manitoba has a high rate of diabetes among young people, she said, and she hopes to find ways to help.
She was also inspired to see so many young people join her for the end of her run in Winnipeg on Saturday.
“I think that’s the most beautiful thing is to see the young ones because that’s my goal, is to educate our young ones now so we can bring those stats down,” she said.
“We can stop being a statistic with diabetes and get these children healthy.”
Kenya, now 21, shared an emotional embrace with her mother under the Saturday sun at The Forks.
She said she wasn’t at all surprised that her mother took on the challenge, noting it was originally supposed to begin in September. It’s something her mother has always talked about doing, Kenya said, and for it to finally come to fruition is special.
“It means a lot to me,” she said. “Living with diabetes is really hard and for her to do this, to remember me every day means a lot.
Beardy said before her run began, her daughter told her she was “going to make history,” but the impact of those words didn’t resonate until she was on her way.
“I know people were affected along the way,” she said. “There was tears, there was laughter, there was joy all around.”
As Beardy gets set to make the trip home, she’s ready to pass the baton to someone else, she said. She encouraged anyone else with a vision or dream to pursue it, as she did.
“Don’t ever have fear,” she said. “Do what your heart tells you to do because it brings people together like this, and it’s a great outcome.”