In August 2015, Tracie Léost, a 16-year-old Manitoban track and field athlete, ran 115 km from Oak Point to downtown Winnipeg to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Her Journey of Hope raised over $6,000 for the Families First Foundation, an organization that helps the families of MMIWG. For his new music video, "Run Sister Run," American singer/songwriter Cass McCombs helps broadcast Léost's story.
The video, directed by Rachael Pony Cassells, recreates Léost's run; she jogs down rural routes and past dresses and stone markers left as roadside memorials.
“Every second day it seemed like there was another story about a young First Nations female who had gone missing or murdered,” Léost told Vogue. “And our prime minister at the time, Stephen Harper, denied that there needed to be an open inquiry into it. I kept bringing it up to my indigenous studies teacher until finally he said to me, ‘If you want to see changes, why don’t you do something about it?’”
Her story inspired Cassells, who'd been asked to make a video for McCombs' Mangy Love. The director couldn't think of another image of a strong woman running in film history. "All my immediate thoughts were of women being chased."
Here, a woman running in public space, Cassells says, is an act of defiance. It is not just a demand for action, it is action itself.