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A breath of fresh air

When Judith Kasiama started hiking and trail running, there were very few BIPOC on the trails, in stores or in brand advertising. Five years later, her organization Colour the Trails is creating real change in the outdoor space

Growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Judith Kasiama fell in love with the outdoors. “My love for nature, as a child who explored green spaces, just stayed with me,” she says. In the late ’80s, the Great War of Africa started in the DRC and, fearing for her family’s safety, Kasiama’s mother moved her family first to South Africa, then Australia, then the U.S., then, 10 years ago, to Canada. After two years in Toronto, Judith settled in Vancouver, where she graduated with a degree in international development, decided to take some time off for outdoor pursuits and took a job in a coffee shop.

A curious thing happened when she began running and hiking, which were easy, affordable activities to undertake in Vancouver. It was strange enough that she saw so few people of colour on the trails. But when buying gear, she noticed that almost all people in any brand advertising were white – there was nobody that looked like her. There were sometimes Black models, of course, but rarely real athletes.

She decided to start Colour the Trails (CTT) to provide safe spaces for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people to participate in outdoor events. She soon realized that it wasn’t enough just to run events without backing them up with activism. “My work entails creating safe space,” says Kasiama, “for BIPOC to recreate in the outdoors by organizing events and advocating for more diversity and inclusion through better representation in media and storytelling.”

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