7 Questions with Colour the Trails

At Arc’teryx, we believe the mountains are for everyone. To play, to grow, and to connect with ourselves, our community and nature. The Arc’teryx Community Grant Program is an extension of that belief. 

Through the Grant Program, we’re committed to supporting the work of grassroots individuals and organizations actively working to increase equitable access to nature. 

One of the organizations we’ve had the privilege of working with is BC-based Colour the Trails. Founded in 2017 by Judith Kasiama, Colour the Trails is a group that creates opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour to learn hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding. They aim to highlight the importance of representation and create space for connection and community. 

We sat down with Judy to learn more about the work she’s accomplished with Colour the Trails and look ahead to 2023. 

A: When you think of the work Colour the Trails has done over the past years, what makes you the most excited and proud? 

CTT: When I think of all Colour the Trails has accomplished in the past years, what makes me most excited is the community that continues to show up with so much courage to learn something new, and the next time they bring their friends or family members along. It takes courage to learn something new, especially as an adult, and I am really excited that Colour the Trails provides this space for everyone to come as they are, with the goal and intention to learn, and reclaim their own identities within nature. Colour the Trails is a space where folks come not knowing anyone and leave with an abundance of friendships. 

A: What does 2023 hold for Colour the Trails? 

CTT: I hope 2023 holds a space for Colour the Trails to grow and be more innovative. Our hope is to continue to not just pay the lip service of advocacy, but rather change policies, create progressive opportunities such as building up mentorship programs, and collaborate with people in our communities that share the same missions and values while continuing to support our communities to see themselves represented in outdoor spaces and see career opportunities in those spaces. 

A: Who did you bring together for Colour the Slopes in Revelstoke? 

CTT: Our first Colour the Slopes event in Revelstoke brought together Black, Indigenous, and Racialized folks of all levels of proficiency in winter activities to come together to learn, celebrate and be in the community. Our goal was to showcase that winter sports are for everyone and we can progress and have fun together without feeling intimidated or feeling like we are the only ones. As this was our first time running this event, we learned a lot and will continue to figure out how to make it more accessible. We had all levels of skiers and snowboarders, from folks who had never tried skiing or snowboarding to folks who were advanced and even pro-riders. It was a space where everyone came together removed from the elitism that often comes across within ski/snowboarding spaces. 

A: What is the overall aim of Colour The Slopes? 

CTT: The overall aim of Colour the Slopes is to celebrate winter and be in community with each other. We also wanted to showcase that DEI work is not just a trend. Tourism Revelstoke, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, and Colour the Trails have built long-term relationships prior to me pitching them the idea. For small towns that often lack diversity, the tourism industry has to be creative in bringing diverse folks into their communities. Colour the Slopes showcased that when we work together with grassroots organizations, create accessibility, and support community builders, amazing things happen. Folks came from all over Canada and USA. Some never even thought of Revelstoke as a destination for winter activities or even just visiting. And our community fell in love with this small town and before the summit was even over, folks were asking if we will be planning on a second year. 

A: Can you sum up in a few words why it is so important to increase equitable access to the outdoors? 

CTT: There’s a stereotype that BIPOC folks do not have the capital to participate in the outdoors. While I think it’s important to look into the knowledge gap, I think we also need to recognize that for a long time, many communities were excluded from the outdoors community. For many of us, we had no family and friends support in exploring many outdoor activities. We are finding out later in life that we love nature, we love the outdoors and slowly we are testing to see if this is for us. Creating a space where people can try things affordably, reducing the cost of entrance, and providing opportunities for folks to find themselves represented in this space allow people to see the value of investing in their joy in a safe space. For many, finding a community of people who look like them, or are on the same level, removes this sense of othering so people feel more included and connected to continue beyond the intro. 

A: How can we be better allies to promote equitable access to the outdoors? 

CTT: I think being an ally means developing relationships and building trust with the community and working with them in a way that does not take away their autonomy in terms of how they represent themselves. It is speaking up for us in the spaces we have no access to. When I first pitched the idea for Colour the Slopes Summit to Robyn Goldsmith of Tourism Revelstoke, I didn’t know what the event would entail or look like. Seeing the spark of excitement from Robyn, knowing that Tourism Revelstoke will welcome Colour the Trails community, and give us the space to learn and grow together, is what allyship looks like. Having Kate Roberts from Revelstoke Mountain Resort to jump on board and work with us as a mediator between Colour the Trails and the resort, was amazing because it supported us to figure out the logistics and ensure that all ski/snowboard coaches understand the need of our community. Allyship is about collaboration and sharing “the table” for conversations. 

A: How can our community get involved with Colour the Trails? 

CTT: There are multiple ways to support Colour the Trails: becoming a corporate partner, offering your skills on the trails such as guiding and clinics, and resharing our work on social media. We ask that folks don’t see us as a community of people needing to be saved. DEI is really becoming a buzzword. Our community is capable! However, we lack opportunities and connections. The best way to close the gap is by working with Colour the Trails to see our potential. From hosting events to hiring us to create content with the community in mind, to consulting, to engaging leadership in conversations about changes. We say “Community starts with an invitation”. Inviting us into the various spaces breaks down stereotypes and fosters community and growth. 

The Community Grant Program is accepting applications from February 1–28, 2023. The Grant Program is for local, grassroots individuals and organizations actively working to increase equitable access to nature for those who have traditionally been excluded and underrepresented in the outdoors. 

If this sounds like you, or an organization you know, please spread the word. Applications are open from Feb 1 – 28, 2023. Learn more, or apply here!

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