A Montreal family shares the joy of hiking and outdoor activities with the BIPOC community

It all started as a way to get your family out during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but much to the surprise of founder Jamillah Jean, Randonnée MTL has since morphed into an initiative that consciously creates safe spaces. in nature for people of color.

“Getting out into nature has always been this grounding process, at least for me. So that’s how it really started,” she told CTV News. “I’m very cognitive and when we’re outside there aren’t a lot of people of color hiking.”

Hike MTL creates a safe outdoor space for people of color. (Courtesy: Hiking MTL)

Jean, who says she’s proud to be Haitian and first-generation Canadian, says she’s always loved being outdoors, even though sometimes she’s the only person of color on the trails.

“When I go outside, I don’t see people of color. Period. I don’t see people of color outside on the trails or the ski slopes or doing any type of outdoor activity,” she said. “It’s beyond us. It’s a bigger issue. I want to create a space where it’s a safe space for people to feel like, ‘OK, I could venture out. I could really go outside.'”

She created Hike MTL last May to encourage people of color to take the plunge and enjoy the outdoors — together.

Depending on the activity, which can range from kid-friendly hikes to ice climbing, Jean says the group has between 10 and 30 participants.

“It’s really been a blessing. I feel so honored to even have this space and people to come in and feel safe,” she said. “I want to share this need for diversity of outdoor space. It’s a must.”

Hike MTL creates a safe outdoor space for people of color. (Courtesy: Hiking MTL)

Jean stresses that showing people of color that they are allowed to occupy space in nature is particularly important in her role as mother to 11-year-old Nahyma and 5-year-old Jahya.

“I want her [my daughter] to be in a space where she feels like she has a sense of belonging, not that she’s a stranger who walks in and joins that space,” said Jean, who also works as a sexual exploitation specialist. and runaways.

Representation matters, she stresses, even if we sometimes downplay its importance.

“If I don’t see someone of a certain ethnicity [where I am], I’m going to hesitate,” emphasizes Jean. “I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I’m not too sure.’ But the moment I see other people of color, for whatever reason, if you see someone that you can relate to, even in the smallest of ways, you’re going to be like, ‘OK’.”

Hike MTL creates a safe outdoor space for people of color. (Courtesy: Hiking MTL)

As Quebec authorities continue to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Jean says she hopes to expand the reach of Hike MTL, traveling across the province and perhaps even to other parts of Canada and the United States.

“There are so many things I think as a family that we love to do and I would love to share that with the community,” Jean said. “That would be great.”

Follow the activities of Randonnée MTL on their website and their Instagram page.

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