For some Indigenous people, skateboarding is a life-saver.
And now, through their non-profit, they are teaching Indigenous youth about the sport, all while instilling a sense of pride in their culture.
“Once kids start doing that, they’re going to learn their language, they’re going to learn their traditions and their culture,” said Rosie Archie, co-founder of Nations Skate Youth. “We remind them that they’re the future leaders, that they matter, that they’re loved.”
Since it was founded in 2020, Nations Skate Youth has given workshops in 35 communities and on Thursday, they stopped by Kahnawake.
“One of my main messages with Nations Skate Youth is to tell the kids something I wish someone told me when I was younger, and that is to be proud of who you are and to be proud of your culture,” Archie said.
Hanging on to his culture is something Nations Skate Youth co-founder, skateboarding legend and residential school survivor Joe Buffalo credits with saving his life.
“Because I was a part of a government institution that was designed to kill us off … suicide is the only answer…. That’s the option we were given,” said Buffalo. “So we try and teach them, ‘Look, skateboarding can provide so much positivity.'”
At the workshop, the non-profit distributed skateboards participants could take home.
Community donations allow them to purchase the boards.
Since the organization started in 2020, it has given out more than 700 skateboards.
Candice Jacco’s son participated in the workshop.
“I think it’s amazing that they bring that to each community, it’s a great opportunity for all our kids. We’re proud to be who we are,” Jacco said.
The goal is to show Indigenous youth that no matter the circumstances, you can always get back on your feet.