Professional skateboarders from around the world are in Langley, B.C., this weekend for a new competition, hosted and led by a local First Nation.
The 7 Generations Cup, happening at the Langley Events Centre on the traditional territories of the Kwantlen First Nation, blends Indigenous ceremonies, vendors and music with top-level skateboarding action.
Brenda Knights, a member of the Kwantlen First Nation, started organizing the event last summer with help from her partner, Jason Bothe, also known as Renee Renee — a well-known emcee in the skateboarding world — and Richmond-born Kevin Harris, Canada's first professional skateboarder.
Knights said she wanted to help bring professional skateboarding to the region while sharing her culture with competitors and spectators.
"We've been taught 'everybody's welcome,'" she said.
"We have visitors from all around the world. They're coming not only for a skating experience, but also to enjoy the local culture."
The name '7 Generations' is based on the seven traditional laws by which the Kwantlen people live: health, happiness, generations, generosity, humbleness, forgiveness and understanding.
"We wanted those to be core values of this event," Knights said.
It's been several years since Metro Vancouver hosted a professional skateboarding competition like this — the last time, Harris says, was in the early 2000s, when the Slam City Jam was still active.
"Vancouver has been one of those cities around the world that is very famous and one of the top 10 cities in the world [for] skateboarding because of the infrastructure that we have," Harris said.
Harris said he's especially excited to see the sport make a comeback in the city because views of skateboarding have changed dramatically since the 1980s and 1990s.
"It was looked upon as you were definitely a drug addict and a devil worshipper," Harris said. "I've never done drugs and alcohol in my entire life. I just wanted to be a good skateboarder."
Skateboarding is now an Olympic sport. Harris also said the pandemic forced kids to look at individual sports, and parents have been supportive of that interest.
"I've never seen it as much as a family sport than I ever have in my life," Harris said.
Organizers expect up to 15,000 fans to show up over the course of the three days, to witness both cultural ceremonies and athletic spectacle.
Harris said fans will particularly be watching White Rock's Andy Anderson, who competed in the Tokyo Games last summer.
"He's one of the best in the world right now," Harris said.
"He's our local hero here."