Did you know that Terry Fox has a Métis background?
The realization came when the family discovered their ancestry, and now — on the eve of the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, as well as Orange Shirt Day — it's set to be the focus of a new pilot project for Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody elementary students.
Today (Wednesday), School District 43 (SD43), Métis Nation BC and Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I-SPARC) announced a new educational program that's set to incorporate and honour the Fox family's heritage by teaching young students how personal values and identity are linked to culture.
The project, earmarked for the lesson plans for teachers in grades 4 to 7 across SD43 and soon available to download via ShareEdBC and HeroInYou.ca/terry, will begin at Glen Elementary, where Fox attended as a child.
More than 100 students from that school were at the press conference, held at nearby Town Centre Park in Coquitlam, to hear about the educational resource and to listen to the speakers.
Among them were Darrell Fox, Terry’s brother, who drove the Marathon of Hope van in 1980; Michael Thomas, a SD43 trustee for Port Coquitlam — Terry’s hometown; Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Rick Glumac; and Lara Mussell Savage, the BC Sports Hall of Fame and education committee chair.
Darrell Fox, who was at the launch with his daughter, Alexandra, explained how his family discovered their Métis roots. The Indigenous heritage traces back to their great-great-great-great grandmother, on Betty Fox’s side: Madeline Marguerite Ross, born in 1775 in St. Francois Xavier, Man.
kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation Chief Ed Hall, who welcomed the crowd in the traditional hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ dialect, said he didn’t know of Terry Fox’s connection to the Métis people.
Darrell Fox said his late brother embodied Métis values especially for sharing (giving of himself) and for courage (activism for the betterment others).
He said Terry Fox “walked away from the cancer ward alive” more than 40 years ago, knowing his purpose was to help the children receiving treatments and to find a cure for cancer.
Thomas, who attended with fellow PoCo Trustee Christine Pollock, called Terry Fox “the greatest Canadian hero” and urged students to “learn, listen and reflect” on Indigenous voices in Canadian history.
And MLA Glumac told the nine- and 10-year-old students that he was the same age when he watched Terry Fox on TV, as he ran with a walking prothesis on his right leg during his Marathon of Hope to raise build awareness and raise funds.
Having cancer “was his darkest time,” Glumac said. “But he took that darkness and he turned the light on to all Canadians. We all have within us. We all have this light, and one day you may have the opportunity to shine, too.”