Using her passion for running, Léost built awareness for the thousands of MMIWG2S with a 115km run from her home in Oak Point, MB to Winnipeg. The run was long and physically demanding, with Léost opting for moccasins after the first day to protect her painfully blistered feet. But she knew she had to push through, “anytime I felt like giving up, there was just this feeling of so many women being with me, I felt like my soul and my spirit weren’t alone.” Léost raised over $6,000 for the Families First Foundation and sparked international attention.
In 2016, the federal government launched the National Inquiry into MMIWG2S, which concluded a deeper, systemic problem going well-beyond missing and murdered women. It includes the Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop—federal policies designed to assimilate the Indigenous population, more specifically, children. However, wide-spread abuse and genocide-like actions performed by the federal government called for an end to both. The public needs to be made aware of these issues, “knowledge is what flourishes activism,” Léost explained. Léost hasn’t finished shedding light on this situation, nor breaking barriers for Indigenous youth and women.
Her mission to empower Indigenous youth came full circle in 2017 when Léost was a participant at the NAIG games. Growing up, sports was a passion, but as she got older, running evolved as an outlet for her to spread awareness. Her three medals in running are testaments to other Indigenous youth that barriers can be broken, “being a successful athlete is only another barrier for Indigenous people in Canada,” she says, “a barrier we must break.” Léost’s enthusiasm for sports has given her the endurance necessary to coach youth hockey while attending the University of Regina, where most of the participants are Indigenous youth. Léost encourages youth to participate in sports and use it to break through society’s preconceived notions.