Thousands of people gathered Saturday and Sunday at the PNE Forum for an Indigenous-led skateboarding festival.
The 7 Gen Skate Festival, featured pro and amateur contests with more than $20,000 in prize money up for grabs. It also had a marketplace, skate demos and clinics, Indigenous ceremonies, culture sharing, and a concert.
It has a focus on creating an “all-inclusive” skateboarding event that welcomes everyone, and is committed to the representation of Indigenous peoples as spiritual and territorial hosts.
Brenda Knights, the Indigenous capacity builder for 7 Gen and a member of Kwantlen First Nation, has been involved in the festival since the beginning.
One of the goals of the festival is to fill the void that was left by the Slam City Jam left behind after it ceased operating years ago in Vancouver. The last Slam City Jam in Vancouver was in 2005.
“My fiancé was often with his friends, reminiscing and talking about the old Slam City Jam and how disappointed they were that it left Vancouver,” she said. “And I had planned different events with the Township of Langley before and so I said, ‘Well, let’s let’s just do it.’”
Last year, the event was held in Langley where the Vancouver Giants play. This year they had to move to the PNE because of the hockey schedule.
“We wanted to introduce Vancouver to skateboarding again. It all sort of fell into place,” she said.
Pro skateboarders from across North America were at the pro event including Tokyo 2020 Olympians Matt Berger, Micky Papa and Andy Anderson, and also Canadian-team Olympic skaters TJ Rogers, Fay De Fazaio Ebert and Cordano Russell.
Rogers, who has been a pro for about 10 years, spoke with Global News on Sunday.
“I have never been to a (festival) that has been solely based on an Indigenous event. It is unique and I am really proud to be here,” he said. “It is very cool. I love the energy in the building. It has been really fun and I am very stoked to be a part of it.”
The festival name, itself, is inspired by the philosophy of considering the impact on seven future generations and by the seven traditional laws of the Kwantlen First Nation. Those seven “laws” are health, happiness, humbleness, generations, generosity, forgiveness and understanding.
A 13-year-old amateur Indigenous skateboarder from the Spuzzam First Nation said it was an experience he will cherish, especially after meeting all the pro skaters attending the event.
“This is really exciting,” Ryder Hatzidimitriou said. “I can like watch (the pros) and just kind of like learn how to skate from them. I am really grateful.”
The event had a 50/50 draw as well with all proceeds going towards cultural programming for various B.C. Indigenous Housing Society buildings.
— With files from Haley Lewis