From the powwow dancers to the basket repatriation ceremony, the inaugural 7 Generations Cup is not a typical skateboarding tournament.
The Indigenous-hosted event in Langley, B.C. is a first of its kind — an international, professional contest that provides an immersive cultural experience for athletes and spectators.
In between the all-terrain, mini-ramp, freestyle, expression session, and best trick battles, there will be singing, drumming, dancing, and prayer. Participants can buy from Indigenous vendors and take advantage of youth mentorship opportunities.
“This event is really important, getting all the youth involved,” said Kwantlen First Nation cultural adviser Dennis Leon, as the three-day event kicked off on Friday.
“We’re always growing up in different worlds and at this kind of event, we’re bringing it all together.”
At the centre of the skate park in the Langley Events Centre is a coastal canoe, incorporating the nation’s culture into the infrastructure of the event. Other obstacles are also B.C.-themed, including a hockey net and cedar hat.
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The name ‘7 Generations Cup’ is inspired by the seven teachings of Wattlekanium, which guided Kwantlen ancestors: health, happiness, generations, generosity, humbleness, forgiveness and understanding.
“We’re mixing Indigenous with our skateboard culture,” said event host, co-organizer and skateboarder Renee Renee.
“There’s so many similarities between Indigenous (culture) and skateboarding — even the powwow dancers, it’s an artform. Everyone’s doing the same dance, but’s how you do it.”
A primary theme of the tournament is inclusivity — something critically important to competitor Dakota Cootes, a queer Indigenous trans woman. Cootes has been skateboarding for about a decade, but at times, didn’t feel safe showing up to the skate park.
“If nothing else I just want people to see it’s possible,” Cootes offered as advice to younger skateboarders. “Keep going to the skate park, keep taking up space because the more we space we take up, the more is created for us.”
Cootes called skateboarding “the most freeing experience you can have in life,” moving on concrete as though it were water. Cootes and other athletes at the event on Friday said they look forward to skateboarding alongside the pros, including Canadian legend Kevin Harris.
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