Kimberley pharmacist Lei Lei Wu is running 21 kilometres a day for 21.5 days to raise money and awareness for the Ktunaxa Nation and developmental trauma. Photo submitted.

215 KM for 215 kids: Kimberley pharmacist running to raise funds for Ktunaxa First Nation

Lei Lei Wu hopes to raise money and awareness for developmental trauma

Kimberley Pharmacist Lei Lei Wu is running 10 kilometres a day for 21.5 days in order to raise money for the Ktunaxa First Nation and awareness for developmental trauma, after the remains of 215 children were found at a former B.C. residential school.

READ MORE: Remains of 215 children found at former B.C. residential school an ‘unthinkable loss’

Wu said he worked with First Nations children while in university.

“They are some of the best kids I’ve ever worked with – sweet, curious, intelligent,” Wu told the Bulletin. “Thinking about what their parents had gone through breaks my heart.”

Wu said his early education took place in an institution “with little regard for human dignity and human rights.”

“As a seven-year-old, I experienced three years of interpersonal trauma that was often violent, cruel and inescapable,” Wu said. “My experience mirrors some aspects of residential schools with one important difference — I had a lot more buffering and healing factors. I could go home every night, whereas the residential school children could not.”

Wu said he felt enormous anger and sadness when the news broke about the 215 children discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

READ MORE: Catholics question relationship with church after residential school grave discovery

He recently has immersed himself in literature on the subject of trauma, specifically how developmental trauma affects the brain.

“It’s poignant to think how adverse childhood experiences can greatly impact our quality of life,” Wu said.

“I didn’t acknowledge my pain and trauma, buried it, and minimized it for a long time. I want people to know that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Whatever happened to us as children, whether it’s neglect, abuse, witnessing domestic violence, incarceration, divorce, poverty, can greatly impact our mental and physical health. Generally speaking, the younger the age in which the trauma happened, the greater the impact.”

Trauma is not new to the human race and we are a resilient species. These days, more clinicians are becoming trauma focused, and there are more tools to help people heal. It all starts with being more vulnerable, more introspective, and having more self-compassion.”

Before this, Wu had never done a 10-kilometre run before this, but he did his first in one hour and two minutes — an impressive feat for a beginner.

He said he usually has been running alone, though sometimes other runners do join him and he really appreciates the company.

“Running in nature is regulating,” he said. “Some days are more challenging than others. I remember running through a thunderstorm, soaked from head to toe, and also seeing a bear at the end of it. The recent heatwave increases the risk of dehydration and heat strokes, which makes running more challenging. I always make sure I am hydrated and have plenty of electrolytes before the run.”

The Kimberley Nordic Trail has been one of his main go-tos, and he said the Cranbrook Community Forest also offers some interesting routes.

He’s so far ran into both a black bear and a grizzly cub. The latter caused him to run as fast as he could in the opposite direction, as he said he didn’t want a “hug” from its mother.

His main goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Child and Family division of the Ktunaxa Nation. He has a GoFundMe set up which can be accessed here

He has raised $1000 so far, including $500 of his own money. He hopes to raise a total of $7000 and said he plans to make the 215KM Fundraiser an annual thing.

READ MORE: 751 unmarked graves at Saskatchewan residential school: First Nation

In fact, since the discovey of more unmarked mass graves at other former residential schools, he’s considering doing another 215-kilometre challenge right after as he hasn’t yet met his goal. He does, however, think he’ll need to give him self a few days off to recover as his legs are very sore.


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