Jaira Cross Child is being recognized with an award for Community Engagement at USask’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards, which is being held virtually on March 10, 2022.
Jaira Cross Child during a Prairie Run Crew Outreach Program. (Photo: Submitted)

Kinesiology student runs for hope, well-being and community

Jaira Cross Child loves to share her passion for active living

By John Shelling

Cross Child has been involved in the Prairie Run Crew Outreach Program (formally Child of The Cross Running Clinic) since 2018. The program aims to serve the Indigenous communities by sharing a message of hope while sharing a passion for living a healthy and active lifestyle.

During this time she has visited schools, sorted and donated running shoes, promoted the event and coached at running clinics. Cross Child has been a member of the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Huskies cross-country and track and field teams since 2019.

Cross Child is being recognized with an award for Community Engagement at USask’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards, which is being held virtually on March 10, 2022, to honour USask Indigenous students for their academic excellence, leadership, research, community engagement and resiliency. 

The award ceremony was part of Indigenous Achievement Week (IAW), which celebrated the successes and contributions of Métis, First Nations and Inuit students, staff and faculty. We asked Cross Child a few questions about her journey at USask. 

Jaira Cross Child is being recognized with an award for Community Engagement at USask’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards, which is being held virtually on March 10, 2022.
Jaira Cross Child has been on the the Huskies Cross-Country and Track and Field team since 2019. (Photo: Submitted)

Why did you choose the College of Kinesiology?

I have always enjoyed sports and being physically active my whole life. I was interested in learning the science behind these things I was interested in. Also, when going into university, I did not know what career I was interested in. Kinesiology leads to many different career pathways, while also being very interesting and engaging. 

Is there someone in your life who inspired you to get where you are today? 

I am very lucky with all the supporters I have, including teammates, friends, coaches and family. Specifically, my parents have inspired me to get to where I am today by teaching me to set goals, work hard and to develop skills such as balancing school and athletics. Also, my grandparents and many of my relatives have attended residential schools. Because of their resilience, I am here today to be a proud member of the Blackfoot Blood Tribe on Treaty 7 territory.

What are your goals for the future? 

I have both academic and athletic goals. I want to continue to work towards completing my kinesiology degree and possibly pursue a master’s in physiotherapy. My athletic goals include working towards personal best times in my track and field events and to be part of a medal-winning team at the U Sports cross-country championships. I also look forward to the next couple years with Prairie Run Crew Outreach Program. We have lots of exciting events planned, including many community visits and race events, and I look forward to being a part of that.

You have been part of the Prairie Run Crew Outreach Program since 2018. Can you talk about the program and why it’s important to you? 

Prairie Run Crew aims to bring a message of hope and restoration to communities through sharing a passion for healthy and active living and breaking down barriers that inhibit people from running. We do many school visits, running clinics, and help at events such as the Saskatoon high school cross-country meets and the Cameco Step Up For Mental Health Run. One time, during a school visit, we were told that one of the students participating in our running clinic was on suicide watch. Later after we left, we were told that she was taken off suicide watch, her school attendance and grades increased, and her participation in sport increased. Stories like this inspire me to continue to share my passion for running and its positive impacts on mental health.  

You are in your second year on the Huskies’ track and field team. Is there a stand-out memory from competition that you are proud of?  

One of my favorite events of the year is our home cross-country meet in September (Sled Dog Open). I have raced at this event twice now. This event is held on the same week as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We wear orange singlets and invite Residential School survivors to the event. This is one of my favorite events because I feel proud to wear the Huskie logo on an orange singlet and to race in honour of residential school survivors. It makes me feel hopeful that we are continuing to work towards reconciliation.