Indigenous CrossFit Athletes Ask Gyms to Program “Honor Workout” on June 21 to Pay Respect to 215 Dead Children Found in Kamloops

June 18, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Grayson Oulette (
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On June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day in Canada, Roger Boyer and Kris and Kristin Sylliboy are spearheading a workout to honor the 215 indigenous children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

Remind me: Earlier this month, investigators discovered a mass grave on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential school, which operated from the late 19th century to the late 1970s. Inside were the bodies of 215 indigenous children. The story has since made international headlines.

The details: Boyer, a long-time CrossFit athlete and citizen of the Anishinabek Nation, and the Sylliboys, CrossFit athletes and citizens of the Mi’kmaq Nation who grew up on an indigenous reserve in Nova Scotia, are asking CrossFit gyms around the world, and especially in Canada, to rally behind the cause.

  • Specifically, they’re asking for gyms, either on June 21 or “sometime that week” to program the honor workout that Kris and Kristin created, wear orange shirts, and post about it on social media using the hashtag #215kamloopschildren. “We’re hoping to create a movement on social media to raise awareness,” Boyer said. 
  • Seeing as this is the first year, Boyer said he doesn’t have a goal, per se, in terms of participation numbers, but that he hopes as many gyms as possible program this workout “in solidarity,” and to honor the innocent lives that were tragically lost. And if you can’t do the workout, then “wear an orange shirt,” he added. 
  • Kris added: “In CrossFit, it’s often said to take it out on the barbell and the hero WODs have always aligned with our faith. Those WODs are not about us, but about these people we are choosing to honor and respect.”

The workout:

215 double unders
21 handstand push-ups
5 clean and jerks (135/95 pounds)
21 burpees
5 clean and jerks
21 box jumps
5 clean and jerks
21 kettlebell swings
5 clean and jerks
21 lunges
5 clean and jerks
21 pull-ups
5 clean and jerks
21 med ball squat cleans (20/14 pounds)
5 clean and jerks
21 toes-to-bar
5 clean and jerks
1,996 meter row or run

Courtesy of Roger Boyer

One big thing: While the honor workout isn’t a fundraiser, if people want to donate money, Boyer recommends donating to the Orange Shirt Society — or buying an orange t-shirt, with proceeds going to the Orange Shirt Society, an non-profit organization that supports residential school survivors and families of survivors, and seeks to spread awareness about Canada’s residential school system and the concept that every child matters. 

The big picture: There is no better platform both to raise awareness of indigenous issues, and to improve the lives of indigenous people than CrossFit, Boyer said. 

  • CrossFit has “the capacity to create change” and to help people live more fulfilled lives — or “Mino Biimaadzwin,” as they say in their indigenous language — Boyer explained. “CrossFit is a place that can intersect with cultural safety and humility and can actually bring awareness and create equity, diversity and inclusion. I totally believe CrossFit can be a vehicle for (that).”
  • He added: “And it’s a space where indigenous people should be…It can connect us all and bring us together.”

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