The Crows have Landed at Hastings Skate Park

September 20, 2021

Mash Salehomoum

Birth of a Skate Crew

Outdoor roller skating has been a hugely popular pandemic hobby. Last March, skate shops across the country were sold out and a quick Google Analytics search shows a huge spike in popularity since Covid began. It was around this time that Rojen Nouri picked up her first pair of rollerskates and began hitting the local parks.

Despite her excitement, Rojen was frustrated. Experienced skateboarders snaked past her as she tried to learn the basics, and she hardly saw anyone that looked like her in the parks. Feeling underrepresented and unwelcomed, she decided to seek out her own crew of roller skaters.

Slowly, Rojen recruited roller skaters and organized informal meet-ups to share tips and tricks.

And, with this, the East Van Skate Crows was born. They successfully applied for their first Park People grant in short order. The TD Park People winter grant-supported skate events in Vancouver’s wetter and colder months when most skaters were hanging up their skates for the season.

 

Credit photo: Pariya Tari

 

The Skate Crows recently received a second TD Park People grant. This funding helped the group organize a Skate Camp at Hastings Bowl to bring new and experienced roller skaters together for skating and a skate park clean-up. They also used the funding to purchase cleaning kits and hire an instructor to inspire aspiring skaters to finally give it a roll.

Building Visibility and a Culture of Caring at Hastings Bowl

 

The colourful Hastings Bowl is a feature of iconic Hastings Park. The bowl and surrounding greenspace have a strong community vibe that makes you forget about the giant amusement park and horse race track on the other side. The bowl was built in 2001 and has since hosted many legendary skaters.

 

Credit should go to Pariya Tari

 

“It’s really important for me to have visibility for roller skaters. There are a lot of women, queer people, non-binary and trans people, people of colour who rollerskate, and oftentimes they’re underrepresented in skate parks. A lot of people can feel intimidated, and especially if you’re a minority, and you’re on roller skates.”

Importantly, the day started with a clean-up to shine up the park, divert harmful trash out of the waterways, and create a safer surface for new skaters. Most importantly, even before they put their skates on, the clean-up left skaters standing a little taller. It was clear that the clean-up helped build a sense of ownership among the skaters and the vibrant park. In the days following the event, a couple of participants even shared photos of themselves cleaning other skateparks using handy cleaning kits.

 

Credit should go to Pariya Tari

 

The clean-up was followed by a land and territorial acknowledgement recognizing the skate park’s location on the unceded and stolen lands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

“Whether you are an immigrant, refugee, or born here, it is important to remember: we are settlers, and our role as allies is to learn about the lands we occupy and amplify the Indigenous voices and work being done to reclaim the land. The rightful reclaiming of land by Indigenous peoples is essential to human rights and the climate crisis across the world.”

Most of the skaters in attendance were new to the sport. Even Rojen, the event organizer, has only been skating since April 2020. While the East Van Skate Crows formed early in the pandemic, some participants, like Roxanne, had the only roller skated once before attending the Skate Camp.

The group split in two to accommodate the different levels of skaters.

 

Credit should go to Pariya Tari

 

By the end, experienced skateboarders were helping the newbies drop into the bowl safely.

The day’s final activity involved sitting in the shade of an Alder tree, learning to recognize the signs of overdose and administer naloxone. The group practiced administering naloxone to a very brave little lemon. This may seem like a leap from roller skating, but the connection was clear – as park users, the skaters are committed to caring for the community that they skate in.

“Now that we are out more in community spaces, we felt it was important to learn how to care for other park users. After just today’s event, 24 more people now have the knowledge, tools, and confidence to recognize when someone might be overdosing and keeping them alive until more help arrives.”

The event was an experience in renegade stewardship. A bunch of brave roller skaters rewrote the narrative on what stewardship means and looks like. I like how this group rolls!

 

Credit should go to Pariya Tari

 

Check out East Van Skate Crows on Instagram to see how they mash up community, inclusion, stewardship and rollerskates.

 


 

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