The coastal seaport city of Vancouver, Canada has a reputation for being the ideal spot for adventure sporting activities. Whether it’s surfing, sailing, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking or climbing, the city of Vancouver has got it all. Earlier this month, this vibrant city of thrill and adventure played host to the She Summits festival, a 4-day community celebration of female-identifying athletes’ achievements, both in a societal context, and in the world of adventure sports.
It’s no secret that women have played a major role in the furthering of outdoor sporting activities. As people of a gender, we have scaled the highest peaks and trekked across vast, barren deserts, travelled to the furthest extents of wilderness and sailed the seven seas, chasing the adrenaline of life in the moment, challenging ourselves with every step. In this respect, women are no different, no lesser beings than our male counterparts- and yet, like most other spheres of influence in the 21st century, the world of adventure sports remains largely dominated by male athletes.
These invisible barriers to progress are the target of event organiser Carla Cupido’s community awareness program. “They still think society’s definition of what it means to be female is being small, and not occupying space,” she said, in conversation with City News. She Summits, a community festival for empowerment and equality aims to challenge this way of thinking, by opening up people’s minds to new ideas. Cognizant of the fact that this invisible discrimination isn’t limited to gender, but race and socio-economic background too, the event focused on not only gender equality, but also on consciously shifting the way trans and non-binary people are treated in the outdoor sporting/adventure community.
The summit, which aims to bring about change by spreading awareness by recognizing and connecting emotionally with female contributions to conversations concerning important social and environmental issues, featured a number of workshops, mindfulness meditations, panel discussions film screenings and an all-female mountain bike ride, amongst others.
A summit for Womxn, by Womxn and of Womxn , She Summits shone a spotlight on empowering tales of people fighting against discrimination in their opening film screening event on the 17th of October. From short films featuring Cholita Climbers from Bolivia, and a wave-chaser solo-surfing in remote waters, to a female gender-warrior in the Japanese sport of sumo, the festival circumnavigated the globe to present stories of passion and belief transcending societal restrictions and expectations.
The October 18th Panel Discussion kicked off with a powerful film, Lost World, to set the scene for an evening of conversation concerning the impact of the changing climate and environment of indigenous people, with an emphasis on connecting human movement with nature. The community mountain bike ride followed on October the 19th, where female-identifying participants consisting of both seasoned mountaineers and novices gathered together to ride as one.
The Mindfulness Meditation event witnessed a powerful celebration of mindfulness, with three topical films and an hour-long meditation session packed full with lessons that took both an academic and physical approach to the subject. The festival also aimed to nurture connections between female leaders with Trail Building initiatives and workshops that aimed to awaken and activate one’s spirit, offering participants to get their hands dirty outdoors, and build and develop relationships that strengthen the network of powerful womxm from within the community.
In a world that is dominated by invisible privilege and baseless discrimination, an initiative the likes of She Summits comes as a breath of much-awaited fresh air. With the powerful goal of “awakening and activating the untapped potential within those who identify as female, to create conscious change in the world,” She Summits is an inspiration to us all, and a reminder that impossible change can be made possible, with just the right combination of grace, poise, confidence and self-belief.
All the images used in this article are coutesy of Carla Cupido and She Summits.