When Darrell Fox joined his brother Terry on the Marathon of Hope more than 40 years ago, he understood why Terry was running the equivalent of a marathon every day for 143 days.
But Darrell never understood how Terry could get up every single day to run — it wasn’t until Darrell learned of their family’s Metis heritage that he finally understood Terry’s remarkable perseverance.
“Many of the 12 core values of Metis people are Terry’s values. This history of roaming the land, leading and adhereing to a set of values was always there within Terry and helps a little more with the how,” he said.
Terry’s maternal grandmother was Mary Ann Gladue. Members of the Gladue family were buffalo hunters and fur traders on the plains. Some of Fox’s ancestors served in the provisional government of Louis Riel. Darrell thanked Metis Nation B.C. for their help in researching the Fox family ancestry.
Terry was posthumously awarded the Order of the Sash from Metis Nation B.C., the Nation’s highest honour in recognition of his contribution to the Nation and all people, as a leader in fundraising for cancer research.
That research culminated in a ceremony on Thursday, April 15, where a plaque commemorating Terry’s Metis heritage was unveiled at Terry Fox Plaza outside B.C. Place in Vancouver. The plaque will serve as a permanent installation to educate the public about Terry’s Metis ancestry.
The ceremony was opened with a prayer from Metis Elder Phillip Gladue. Gladue gave thanks for the “special day” and praised Terry’s efforts to raise funds for cancer research.
“He’s with us today. He’s still running. He’s done an awesome job. He’s a role model for many many people all over the world. It’s a pleasure to be celebrating and opening for this day,” he said.
Louis de Jaeger, vice president of Metis Nation B.C., said working with the Fox family to explore their Metis heritage was a privilege. In 2021, MNBC worked with the Terry Fox foundation to develop a shirt that showcased Metis beadwork. The shirt is among the best selling in the 42-year history of the Marathon of Hope. A Metis sash was developed with Terry’s colours and is worn widely in the Metis community.
MNBC also worked with the Terry Fox Foundation, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, Indigenous Sport, the Physical Activity and Recreation Council, and the Coquitlam School District to develop a series of Inspiration in Action lesson plans, exploring Terry’s life and his Metis ancestry. The education plans are now available to classrooms across B.C. and are suitable for young learners between grades four and seven.
“I raise my hands to Darrell, the Fox family, and everyone who has helped steward these projects to fruition,” de Jaeger said. “It is only from continuing to share our stories, heritage, language and identity that we can further our important cause of advancing Indigenous reconciliation.”
Since the Marathon of Hope began on April 12, 1980, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $850 million for cancer research.