A 16-year-old ran 71 miles in 4 days to draw attention to a national crisis.
She's taking on a problem her government won't acknowledge.
Tracie Léost wanted to take action against a major problem facing women in her country — so she started running.
The 16-year-old Canadian girl ran more than 71 miles in four days and raised thousands of dollars in the process. She ran from Oak Point, Manitoba, to The Forks in Winnipeg.
Her run made national news. So why was she running, anyway?
Tracie ran to draw attention to the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada.
In Canada, aboriginal women are nearly three times as likely to face violence compared to non-indigenous women. (And the problem is not limited to Canada, either. In the U.S., Native Americans also face increased rates of violence.) The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recommended that the Canadian government conduct a national inquiry and develop an action plan centered on protecting this vulnerable population.
More than 1,000 aboriginal women have been murdered in Canada since 1980.
Amnesty International calls it a "national human rights crisis," pointing to a 2014 Canadian government report stating that since 1980, more than 1,000 aboriginal women have been murdered. Amnesty notes that gaps in reporting mean the number is actually much higher than what can be counted.
Critics argue that the government hasn't made protecting Aboriginal women a priority — and they're right.
In a 2014 interview (likely to haunt him long after he leaves office), Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked whether he planned to launch a national inquiry into these disappearances and murders. His response?
"It isn't high on our radar." Needless to say, that wasn't especially reassuring to those who have lost friends or family members to violence.
"Stephen Harper won't step up and make this change," Tracie wrote on her GoFundMe page. "So stand along side me as we fight for justice in place of these women and girls."
If the government won't act, that's where everyday people like Tracie come in.
Tracie's run raised money for the Families First Foundation, which raises awareness and helps the families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
Tracie's run helps shine a light on this serious issue and shows how even when a government won't take action, regular people can make a difference.