Push for skate parks on reserves to engage youth 'lost between cracks in sports programming'

Push for skate parks on reserves to engage youth 'lost between cracks in sports programming'

Plans are underway to bring skateboarding to Indigenous youth in northern B.C. by building skate parks in the Treaty 8 reserves.

Connie Greyeye, an Indigenous activist in Fort St. John, B.C., began pushing the idea forward in the spring and partnered with local skate shop Victory Skateboards.

"It's a great way to get some exercise, to get the kids outside," she told Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC's Daybreak North. 

The plans first started to come together in May.

"The idea of driving the hour to come into town [from the reserve] to go the skate park when they can just grab their board and walk down the road and have their own park there would be wonderful," she said.

Three out of the six Treaty 8 reserves are currently working to get the skate parks up and running.

Organizers are aiming to get one skate park in each of the six reserves once more funding is in place.

'A lifelong skater'

Cole Andrews, who owns Victory Skateboards, said he was inspired to join the project after putting together an indoor skate camp last winter.

"In doing that, we were able to see all the different youth that were kind of lost between the cracks in sports programming in Fort St. John," Andrews said.

"We saw that there was a big need for kids that don't fit into sports programs or, another big aspect of this, are people who are priced out of sports."

Part of the appeal of building a skate park, he said, is the way it can reach youth across the board regardless of socioeconomic status — unlike more costly community sports like hockey.

"Skateboarding is extremely accessible to anyone and if you can just donate a board to a kid, you get a lifelong skater out of them," he said.

With files from Daybreak North.  

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