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Reconciliation Run highly admirable effort by Bisons alum Trechelle Bunn

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With proud standing as a Youth Chief in the Southern Chiefs Organization, giving back to the community stands as a strong focus for Trechelle Bunn. Incorporating a love of athletics into the admirable effort to raise awareness about Reconciliation, her leadership shone brightly with the launch of a Healing Walk in 2021. Building on such success with the Reconciliation Run one year later, a half marathon taking shape as an annual event held on September 30, Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

Providing young Indigenous people with an incredible role model, Bunn, raised in Wampum, Manitoba, belonging to the Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation, enjoyed a unique hockey linkage to her heritage during time spent in elite junior hockey. Having skated for the Boston Shamrocks from 2017-19, she was part of a legacy of skaters from Manitoba to wear their jersey, including the likes of Carrigan Umpherville, Julie Albert and Shayna Moore.

Following her time on the Shamrocks blueline, Bunn returned to her Prairie roots, gracing the ice in the Canada West Conference. The journey initially began for Bunn as a member of the University of Calgary Dinos, enjoying 25 appearances during her freshman campaign of 2019-20. Worth noting, Bunn recorded a point in her Dinos debut, earning the assist on a goal by Sara Craven in a 2-0 win on October 4, 2019 versus Regina. Another notable date during the season took place on February 7, finding the back of the net during a power play in a 4-1 win versus the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

As the 2021-22 season brought Bunn to the University of Manitoba, returning to her home province, the first game was one defined by coincidence. Of note, the Bisons faced off versus her former team. Hosting the Dinos on October 16, 2021, Bunn began her Bisons career on an exciting note, earning an assist on a goal by Lauren Warkentin in a 5-2 triumph.

A little over a month later, the positive momentum continued. Challenging the Mount Royal Cougars in a November 20 road match, Bunn scored her first goal as a Bison. Placing the puck past Zoe De Beauville at the 1:02 mark of overtime, the exhilaration of a 2-1 win marked a career highlight.

Beyond the ice, Bunn experienced another significant milestone during her treasured time with the Bisons. Earning celebrated recognition with the prestige of the 2022 Student Community Builder Award at the Indigenous Awards of Excellence, her sentiments reflect a strong set of values built on unity and belonging, setting a positive example.

“It was a huge honour to be recognized by the University of Manitoba as the recipient of the 2022 Indigenous Awards of Excellence for Community Building. The award was presented to me, but it speaks volumes to all the communities I am fortunate to be a part of. I live by the quote, ‘I am not self-made. I am community-made.’”

Having recently earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba, the opportunity to participate in the second Chief Thunderstick women’s tournament allowed a treasured opportunity to extend the Bisons experience. Wearing the jersey of the Cross Lake Lady Islanders, appearing in the championship game versus Sage Strong, the experience took on a strong emotional component.

Joined on the Cross Lake roster by fellow Bisons Kate Gregoire and Dana Goertzen, the chance to be teammates again provided an aspect of introspection. Gregoire, originally from Ste. Anne, Manitoba, enjoyed numerous offensive bests in 22-23, her third season with the program. Reaching double digits in goals (10), enjoying 18 points and 59 shots on goal, she also played on the Bisons golf team in 2019-20.

Goertzen, who studied at Balmoral Hall enjoyed a solid freshman campaign in 22-23, appearing in 16 games while registering 41 shots on goal. As a side note, she suited up for Manitoba’s gold medal entry at the 2022 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Membertou, Nova Scotia.

“It was great to play with Gregs (Kate Gregoire) and Dana at Freddy. They are both very skilled players and two players that you can always count on to show up and impact a game. Since this past season, 2022-2023, was my final season with the Bisons as I graduated, it was special to play with them both. I have the utmost respect for Gregs and Dana on and off the ice.”

The enjoyable experience at the Chief Thunderstick event actually served as prologue. As the onset of spring provides the expanding ritual of numerous Indigenous hockey tournaments, Bunn was eager to grace the ice, representing a combined love of game and heritage. Belonging to the triumphant team atop the women’s division at the Arrowhead Games, the result provided a highly emotional connection.

“Spring/early Summer is one of my favourite times of the year because I play in so many First Nation/Indigenous hockey tournaments. It is always an honour to represent the Nation/community I am playing for and to bring pride to that community. In the Arrowhead Games, I played for Long Plain First Nation, one of the communities I represent as Youth Chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization.

It was special to win the women’s division of the Arrowhead Games since Long Plain is the community that organized the tournament. I also got to play with a lot of my past teammates. Also, a few of the games were close and fast-paced, so it was a nice feeling to come out on top.”

Equally special is the passion behind the launch of the Reconciliation Run. With the proud encouragement and effort of her parents, Gabriel and Jolene, also serving as volunteers, the half marathon event, the process is built on inspiration. Perhaps the most admirable element is the fact that Bunn organized the inaugural run while balancing the onset for the final year of her undergraduate studies and the Bisons preseason.

Additionally, the inaugural Reconciliation Run saw several of Bunn’s teammates from the Bisons participate relay style. Emblematic of the feeling of unity on such a meaningful day, it also reinforced the feeling of community and friendship which defined her pair of seasons skating in the Bisons paraphernalia.

Although managing such a workload encompassed a highly impressive effort, any pressure from the preparatory stages quickly evaporated upon receipt of the Run’s orange T-shirts and medals. Inspired by the stories of many Residential School survivors, a significant emotional component provided a constant source of motivation. As the distance of the Reconciliation Run spans twenty-six kilometers, starting from the lawn of the former Birtle Residential School (which operated from 1931 to 1972) to the Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation, the journey serves as a loving tribute to her grandparents.

“I founded the Reconciliation Run in honour of my Kunshi (grandmother) Mildred and Unkan (grandfather) Donald, who were survivors of the Birtle Residential School. My Unkan Donald said that when he was at the school, he wanted nothing more than just to run away and go home.”

Heading into the 2023 edition of the Run, a significant sense of momentum provided a highly positive start. In addition to the Run holding a virtual component, Under Armour Canada graciously donated 213 pairs of shoes. Joined by her brother Teane, both distributed the shoes for Birdtail’s grateful youth. Fittingly, the community deemed it Under Armour Day.

“The Reconciliation Run honours Residential School Survivors across Turtle Island and all of those who never made it home. It also aims to provide intergenerational healing, reflection and learning through movement on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and is rooted in the teaching of movement as medicine. I am looking forward to the 2nd Annual Reconciliation Run this year on September 30, 2023.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

To learn more about the Reconciliation Run, please visit: reconcilliationrun.ca

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