Moses family runs 10k in Ottawa for diabetes

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Travelling long distances on foot is nothing new for the Cree. But the culture of running long-distance races for fun is still a recent phenomenon. As communities encourage health and wellness, more Crees are discovering that running is a natural fit.

Eastmain’s Jamie and Cindy Moses, along with their eldest daughter Joni, are one group who are serious about their running. This year, the trio signed up to run the Ottawa Race Weekend 10k race, held May 27. Ottawa’s weekend of road races is one of the biggest in the world, and more than 10,000 runners participate in the 10k race alone. The Moses trio took their place in the crowd to raise funds for Team Diabetes, promoting diabetes awareness, but they were also doing it for themselves.

“I do it for my health,” Cindy said. “To be healthy, you have to move. In my family, there’s diabetes – my aunt, my mom, my late grandmom, they all had diabetes. I’m at a high risk, so I’m trying to be physical. I needed motivation to be active. Jamie asked me one day, and I decided to join. It’s the healthy thing to do. But it can be hard.”

Cindy and Jamie wanted to introduce Joni to running. “It gives her some responsibility to have a goal,” she said. “We try to teach our children goals in life and working toward them, achieving them. It was a lesson for our daughter to go to an event, and to work together and do fundraising like the way we’ve been doing the last few weeks.


Jamie and Cindy are road-race veterans: over the past several years, one or both of them has run 21-km half-marathon races in Vancouver, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, the Cayman Islands and Iceland. They have also been running in the annual Chisasibi Run every August, which they note is getting more organized and drawing a greater variety of runners every year.

“Our first run was in Vancouver,” said Jamie. “It was our goal to go on a trip somewhere far away from home. Cindy was more comfortable going to a Canadian destination than going to the States. To get our motivation going, we registered for a 21k fall half-marathon in Vancouver. We ran a half-marathon in Ottawa two years ago, with Team Diabetes. That same year, we ran Niagara Falls.”

Team Diabetes saw how enthusiastic Jamie and Cindy were about running, so they suggested the couple sign up for an international event. The minimum fundraising goal was $350, but Jamie and Cindy each tripled that amount. From that point, they were guaranteed a spot, but they needed to select an event. The only one that fit their family schedule was Iceland – it wasn’t on the top of their list, but it worked.

Joni described running as a new adventure. “Seeing my parents go to cool destinations and go running at events, I wanted to take part in that,” she said.

Jamie points out that Joni is a natural. In this year’s Eastmain snowshoe races, she placed first in her age group.

Three years ago, when Joni was only 10, she joined her parents on the Winter Journey and covered 100 km in a week.

“She was very impressive,” Jamie said. “At 10 she was so little that she didn’t need snowshoes to walk on the trail where all of us needed them. She did extremely well, and everyone was so encouraging and telling her how proud they were. That was her first big challenge physically.”

Jamie – who has run since he was a teenager, doing 12-km loops around his community – likes to beat his own best time. Cindy prefers to walk, with some running thrown in now and then. They both like the 21-km half-marathon distance, but this time around they opted for 10k to make sure Joni would find it welcoming.

“I’m not going to run my best time, but I’m going to run my daughter’s time,” said Jamie. “Wherever she starts, I’m going to start, and run with her, walk with her, and cross the finish line with her. Cindy told us, ‘Leave me if I fall behind, just do your best.’”

Moses' familyorig-ORXG6804

Because the Ottawa race is at the end of May, training is interrupted by Goose Break. That was bad enough for Jamie and Joni, but it was even more of an impediment for Cindy, who’d missed the chance to snowshoe all season. She started preparing for the 10k only a few weeks ago, with walks and squats. But she notes that normally she’d be running 21k, so maybe it will balance out.

Nonetheless, Cindy enjoys walking and running as an activity and misses it when she doesn’t have the opportunity to do it.

“I think about our ancestors when I’m out there,” Cindy said. “They would walk all day. For me, it’s just a few hours. And even that can be hard sometimes. I feel connected to the land when I walk – it feels good.”

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