The Nathan Matthews Memorial Skate Park was the site of the Orange T-Shirt Jam Sept. 29 with skateboarders Rosie Archie and Tristan Henry.
The two helped found Nation Skate Youth, a non-profit aimed at inspiring and engaging with Indigenous youth.
Sponsored by Williams Lake First Nation, the Orange Shirt Day event was an opportunity for Archie to return to the community where she used to spend time skateboarding when she was young.
Archie grew up in Canim Lake (Tsq’escen), and at the time, Williams Lake had a small skate park consisting of some wooden features, while 100 Mile House did not. So she would come to the lakecity to skate on weekends.
The Nathan Matthews Memorial Skate Park was built after she graduated and moved away.
Archie now lives in Vancouver, and is a leader in the skateboarding community, and had the idea to found Nation Skate Youth in 2020, which travels all around North America to help get First Nations youth involved in the sport.
The clouds were lifting and temperatures were warming up as the afternoon event began Friday.
As the skate jam opened, Archie spoke about how as a young First Nations woman, she found a community and acceptance in the inclusive skateboarding scene. She and her sister would hitchhike to Williams Lake to skateboard and attend punk music shows in those days, before her sister had her drivers’ licence.
Tristan Henry is from Dawson City. He helped Archie found Nation Skate, along with Archie, Joe Buffalo, Dustin Henry, and Adam George, who were also at the event, helping inspire the youth.
Henry was handing out the free skateboards to those who pre-registered to take part, and then spoke after Archie as the event opened.
He described some of the racism he experienced growing up and the impact of losing his grandmother, who taught him about the importance of culture. He said skateboarding provided him with validation and community when he was a young man.
Henry then led the group of youth in attendance in a group stretch before the demonstration and workshop got underway.
The event was scheduled to include a barbecue after the demonstration as well.