A Path Towards Diversity & Inclusion in the Outdoors

At The Wild | Life Outdoor Adventures, our vision is to get more kids outdoors, more often. We are committed to removing barriers so that all kids, and all families can feel safe and welcome in all outdoor spaces.

 

In the research phase of launching this business we identified what many refer to as “The Adventure Gap”, a phrase noted by American author and journalist, James Mills. Mills cites the reasons for the lack of minority representation in the outdoors as varied and complex, from cultural to socioeconomic to historical.

 During our focus groups one of these findings was validated by our participants who mentioned possessing outdoor skills and knowledge as a barrier since often families who are new to Canada don’t have multiple generations of grandparents, uncles and aunts,  and cousins, sharing and passing on the relationship with the natural world. These barriers have been at the forefront of our decisions so that we may grow into an organization that can maximize our influence and impact on improving diversity and inclusion in outdoor spaces, specifically for people of colour and other underrepresented identities.

 We have taken time this past week to chat one-on-one with each of our team members, we have found new resources and new information, and we have thought a lot about what we can do now, and in the future, to be an advocate, ambassador, and ally for diversity in the outdoors.

Here are 5 goals we have set for ourselves:

  • Our partners: we will ensure that our brand ambassadors are representative of people of colour, all abilities, and other underrepresented identities.
  • Our imagery: we will use representative imagery in our product content, marketing, advertising and media.
  • Our content:we will publish and share at least 1 story on our blog each year that features an outdoor expert or enthusiast from an underrepresented identity so that their perspectives and experiences may be heard.
  • Share resources: we will identify at least one partner in each province that is working to diversify the outdoors and help to amplify messages and resources to our community.
  • Financial aid: by the end of 2021 we will communicate to our community our plan to provide financial support that aims to close the “Adventure Gap”. We will contribute to a partner organization or provide aid directly through our own initiatives.

We may be a young brand in Canada, our work is just beginning but we are committed to making change beyond the products we bring to the market. We will continue to grow our community and use our shared voice for change.

We will be a part of a new outdoor industry.

We care about our outdoor spaces and the opportunities they provide and believe everyone should have opportunities to be curious, to be brave, and to be wild.

We look forward to reporting our progress back to our community. In the meantime, if you have comments or suggestions or additional resources or information to add to this blog, please contact us.

 
Jenelle, Heather & Jeremy.

Founders, The Wild | Life Outdoor Adventures
 

Resources, information and perspectives we found helpful: 

Articles (Canadian Publications)

Kasiama, Jusdith. “On diversity and healing in nature.” The Great Trail. January 30, 2020. 


Kelly, Ash. “The Adventure Gap: Why minorities are less likely to pursue outdoor recreation.” CBC. June 20, 2018.
 
Brean, Joseph. “Canada's 'adventure gap': Why it doesn't make sense for the great outdoors to be such a white space.” National Post. May 28, 2018.
 
Lockhart, Jessica Wynne. “How to help new Canadians access the great outdoors.” Cottage Life. September 22, 2017.

Articles (Other)

Multiple Authors.  Five Ways to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive.” The Atlantic. June 2020.
 
Askew, Reyna., Walls, Margaret A. “Diversity in the Great Outdoors: Is Everyone Welcome in America’s Parks and Public Lands?” Resources Magazine. May 24, 2019.
 
Baker, Teresa.“An Open Letter to the Outdoor Industry on Diversity.”Outdoor Retailer. June 6, 2018
 
Baker, Teresa. “Changing Faces of the Outdoors.” Alpinist. October 03, 2017.
 
Berger, Erin. "To Diversify the Outdoors, We Have to Think About Who We're Excluding."Outside Online. November 20, 2016. 
 
Kefauver, Olivia. "Diversifying the Outdoors: Brown People Camping."Outdoor Women's Alliance. 2017. 
 
Kloos, Kassondra. “We Need More Women of Color Working in the Outdoors.” Outside Magazine. April 3, 2018.
 
Lanquist, Lindsey. “Unlikely Hikers' Shut Down Stereotypes of What Fitness Looks Like.” SELF Magazine. August 3, 2017. 
 
Rassler, Brad. “The Adventure Gap and Narratives of Inclusion: James Edward Mills talks about why the face of outdoor adventure must change.” Alpinist. December 21, 2016.
 
Scharper, Julie. "Nature Fix."National Parks Conservation Association. 2017. 
 
Tariq, Ambreen. "My Immigrant Story: Loneliness and Empowerment at the American Campground."Outside Online. April 07, 2017. 
 
Tariq, Ambreen. “I Would But: I Am The Only Person of Color.”REI Co-Op Journal. February 22, 2018.

Books

Finney, Carolyn. Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. The University of North Carolina Press, 2014.
 
Mills, James E. The Adventure Gap. Mountaineer Books, 2014.

Podcasts 

Straub, Gale and Jaylyn Gough. “Episode 53: Native Connection to the Land.”Audio Blog Post. She Explores. February 5, 2018.

Straub, Gale and Marinel de Jesus. “Episode 51: Never Too Late to Become a Mountain Nomad.”Audio Blog Post. She Explores. 

Antoinette, Nicole and Rahawa Haile."Rahawa Haile on Writing, Diversifying the Outdoors and Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail."Audio Blog Post. Real Talk Radio, Season 14. 2017.

Ashbrook, Tom and Rahawa Haile. “Black Bodies, Green Spaces.”Audio Blog Post. WBUR On Point. April 17, 2017.

“Code Switch Podcast, Episode 2: Being 'Outdoorsy' When You're Black Or Brown.” Audio Blog Post. NPR Code Switch, 8 June 2016.

Websites 

Diversity Outdoors

Sustainable Play

Nature As A Second Language



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