For readers of Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian and Chelsea Vowel’s Indigenous Writes, Tireless Runners tells the history of colonization from pre-contact to the present day through the multi-generational story of one Indigenous family.
Tireless Runners is the multi-generational story of the Sacquilty family, part of the Kwantlen First Nation in southwestern British Columbia. Prior to first contact in the 1800s, the Sacquilty were a wealthy family living in a region rich from fishing and trade. With the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the family adapted and at first even grew more prosperous, intermarrying with the fort’s Hawaiian labourers, trading, and fighting alongside the Company’s militia. But with Canadian Confederation and the onslaught of European settlement, the Sacquilty were pushed off their ancestral lands and, like all First Nations, suffered racist federal policies that confiscated their wealth, broke up their families, and sent them into poverty.
Rejoining the family exactly one hundred years after they stood at the proclamation ceremony of the British Columbia colony, Tireless Runners finds the Sacquilty at their lowest ebb. From a grandmother who lost two children when they were denied access to health care to a grandfather who was forced to abandon his home and raise his family in the city, Tireless Runners explores the complex human effects of the policies of exclusion and systemic racism. Jago also shares stories of hope and resistance: a cousin who devoted his life to reclaiming and protecting Indigenous access to waterways and fisheries, an uncle who is working to reform the reserve system and achieve Indigenous sovereignty and self-government. Tireless Runners ends with the traditional funeral of Jago’s uncle James, which provides an opportunity for him to see first-hand the resurgence of Indigenous identity in a new generation and ruminate on the phenomenon of cultural revival.
ROBERT JAGO is a writer, educator, and political consultant from Richmond, British Columbia. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Nation, The Walrus Magazine, Maclean’s, Canadaland, and on the CBC. Jago is a registered member of the Kwantlen First Nation in British Columbia and the Nooksack Tribe in Washington State. He lives in Montreal.