Thomas/Thomasina Wamiss went the distance for the second year in a row, completing the long and arduous journey from Victoria to Port Hardy, albeit with a little change in plans along the way.
“Right from day one there was a lot of things that could have stopped me,” Wamiss said, noting in particular that a flat tire on the cart they were pulling behind them was a big problem, and then injuring their foot early on during the walk. “By the time I got to Parksville about half of my foot was blue underneath, the doctor tried to tell me I wasn’t going to finish, but I just sent for my bike and it worked out good. With the bike I can actually ride into the communities and spread the word while I’m there.”
It was back on Friday, Sept. 15, when Wamiss, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, took off from Beacon Hill Park in Victoria for their second annual 500 kilometre Sobriety Walk for Cancer. Wamiss arrived in Port Hardy on Wednesday, Sept. 27, two days earlier than anticipated.
“Getting here was definitely worth it,” Wamiss said after finishing the trek by going down Highway 19 all the way to Carrot Park, where a large group of people were waiting to celebrate the incredible accomplishment.
“No matter what’s in front of you, don’t let it stop you,” added Wamiss. “Find another way or continue to push forward, believe in yourself because you can do it.”
Wamiss noted they were inspired to create the walk after losing two brothers to cancer and gaining a renewed gratitude for health after becoming sober. This year’s walk began on the third anniversary of their sobriety.
“If I didn’t quit when I did I’d be dead,” Wamiss said, “just because of how severe it was when I was drinking.”
Wamiss’ father, Spruce Wamiss, passed away back on Dec. 4. They’d been working together on speeches for the walk that were in both Kwak’wala, their traditional language, and in English.
“I dedicate my sobriety and this walk to my dad, because he was a [residential school] survivor. The stuff that was causing me to drink was all petty problems compared to what my dad endured in residential school every day. He was told he wasn’t supposed to speak his language anymore, he wasn’t allowed to talk to his family anymore, they were trying to kill the Indian, but he survived when so many children never made it home.
‘I mean, what my dad endured for me to even be born, my sobriety is all dedicated to my dad.”
As for next year, Wamiss said it’s going to be a “yo-yo,” noting they’re going to ride their bike down island and then “come back up on my bike.”
Wamiss so far has raised $1,570, their donation page will be open until Oct. 20. If you’d like to make a donation, go to https://donate.bccancerfoundation.com/site/TR?px=2932062&fr_id=2800&pg=personal