Alia Youssef_JennaMae-071421-4

Nature is already diverse — now these BIPOC adventurers are making it more inclusive

From historic paintings to outdoor brand campaigns, it’s easy to get the impression the great outdoors are mostly great for white men. Meet the Black, Indigenous and racialized women and non-binary trailblazers challenging ideals of who belongs

Earlier this year, we turned to our readers to ask: could you help support us in launching a Narwhal fellowship program for racialized photographers?

Now, we’re thrilled to show you the first piece published thanks to our generous Narwhal community.

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Alia Youssef’s stunning photo essay captures stories and portraits of 10 racialized female and non-binary trailblazers who are transforming the sense of who belongs in the natural world — and opening up about why that matters.

“Nature is already diverse — what has been lacking in the past years has been the diverse voices and lived experiences and the space to share those in relation to the outdoors,” said Judith Kasiama, one of the 10 adventurers featured in Alia’s piece. “Diversity was already present and it was inclusion that was missing.”

Judith Kasiama (she/her) rides her mountain bike along a trail in Mount Fromme

The story also delves into the erasure of Indigenous people’s perspectives and links to nature. “It’s not that we weren’t there,” said snowboarder and backcountry enthusiast Sandy Ward. “It was that we were underrepresented.”

On Instagram, Alia reflected on what it was like putting the piece together: “I had the privilege of spending the past few months adventuring with the 10 incredible humans who are featured in this photo essay. They complicate representations of who belongs in the outdoors and invite their communities to do the same by sharing tools and access. We climbed, we kayaked, we hiked, we (me) tried to balance on rocks in the ocean with two cameras and not fall in and ran after mountain bikes … and it was such a fun experience. Thank you to everyone involved for inviting me along on these awesome activities, for being such incredible leaders, and for changing how so many see and interact with outdoor activities/the natural world in general.”

We hope this story moves the needle on inclusion in the outdoors. 

You can go here to immerse yourself in Alia’s work. 

And stay tuned for more pieces from our other two fellows, Ramona Leitao and Robby Dick, who are rounding out our fellowship program, created in partnership with the talented folks at Room Up Front.

Take care and disrupt the script,

Arik Ligeti
Audience engagement editor


The Narwhal in the world

eagle island in peace river
Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

For years, Sarah Cox has relentlessly reported on the construction of the Site C dam in B.C.’s Peace Valley, including the impacts of the massive hydro project on the landscape and community (she’s even written a book about all of it).

So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that filmmaker Heather Hatch decided to interview Sarah for a new documentary titled Wochiigii lo: End of the Peace. The film is set to play at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and for those not in town, a digital screening is also taking place.

And, it goes without saying, Sarah will continue putting the government’s feet to the fire on the most expensive dam project Canada has ever seen.


This week in The Narwhal

Fairy Creek is set to become the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada’s history

scuffles between RCMP and protestors at the Fairy Creek blockades

By Sarah Cox

Amid escalating tensions with the RCMP, old-growth logging blockades on Vancouver Island show no signs of letting up. B.C.’s response, experts say, will determine the legacy of the new war in the woods. Read more.


B.C.’s extreme heat is here to stay. Critics say government’s plan to deal with it is dangerously weak

A woman stands in mist

By Ainslie Cruickshank

From 570 devastating heat-induced deaths, to fish die-offs, to berries being baked on the stem, British Columbians are experiencing the multitude impacts of a growing climate emergency that the province urgently needs to adapt to. Read more.


Let’s not forget we’re choosing our politicians while the world burns down around us

Federal election 2021: photo of person holding Purple Prairie Clover in prairie grasslands, featured in Arno Kopecky op-ed on voting

By Arno Kopecky

For too many years, governments and corporations alike urged us puny citizens to do our part without bothering to do theirs. Read more.


What we’re reading

The Globe and Mail "Canada’s disappearing coastline: How climate change puts our beaches in jeopardy"
CBC "'A thrilling sign': Researchers discover secret colony of highly endangered marmots on Vancouver Island"

cats under an umbrella in the rain

When much-needed rain finally comes but you’re still stubbornly grumpy about it. Tell your friends to join us under The Narwhal’s umbrella by signing up for our newsletter.

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