'Colour the Trails' founder wanted to see more diversity in outdoor activities
Love for the outdoors and wanting to create accessibility for racialized communities inspired Judy Kasiama
CBC is highlighting stories of Black Canadian immigrants to share the joys and obstacles on their paths to Black excellence. From their first steps in Canada to the moments that shaped their lives. These are their journeys here.
Judy Kasiama noticed a disconnect when she started taking advantage of nature in British Columbia in 2016, spending her weekends driving out to trails for hikes.
"When I was going hiking and doing these activities, I was seeing such a diverse group of people. But then when I would go into these stores and brands and buy gear, I wasn't seeing that being represented, in terms of how media was showcasing the outdoors," Kasiama said in an interview.
"It also showed very white and very male, and it just wasn't really showing the diverse group of people that I was coming across."
The former refugee had lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Australia and various U.S. states before coming to Canada in 2010 and settling in Vancouver.
Kasiama said she organized an evening hike through a Facebook group for Black Vancouverites, and a "bunch of people showed up."
The hikers told her they were definitely interested in doing outdoor activities, but that the settings felt inaccessible.
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So in 2017, Kasiama created Colour the Trails, a group that provides lessons for Black, Indigenous and people of colour to learn hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding.
She started a film festival, too, Black Like Me — Outdoor Edition, and is on the board of the Vancouver International Film Festival. Kasiama also sits on the board of the Trans Canada Trail.
"I think we should pause and recognize that a lot of us have never been invited into certain spaces," Kasiama said. "So if we put away our pride and our standoffishness, and invite people to come, learn, and do things that we love and create a safe space for them, I think it's amazing to see what can come out of it."
Being Black in Canada: My Journey Here is a special series where Black Canadian immigrants share the joys and obstacles on their paths to Black excellence. From their first steps in Canada to the moments that shaped their lives.