Indigenous Skateboarding Competition Begins in Langley, BC

Professional snowboarders from around the world are in Langley, BC this weekend for a new competition, organized and run by a local First Nation.

Held at the Langley Events Center on the traditional territories of Kwantlen First Nation, the 7 Generations Cup combines Indigenous ceremonies, vendors and music with high-level skateboarding action.

Kwantlen First Nation member Brenda Knights began planning the event last summer with the help of her partner, Jason Bothe, also known as Renee Renee — a well-known emcee around the world of skateboarding — and Richmond-born Kevin Harris, Canada’s first professional skateboarder.

Knights said she wanted to help bring professional skateboarding to the region while sharing her culture with competitors and spectators.

“We were taught ‘everyone is welcome,'” she said.

“We have visitors from all over the world. They not only come for the skating experience, but also to enjoy the local culture.”

The name “7 Generations” is based on the seven traditional laws by which the Kwantlen people live: Health, Happiness, Generations, Generosity, Humility, Forgiveness and Understanding.

“We wanted those to be the core values ​​of this event,” Knights said.

It’s been several years since Metro Vancouver hosted a professional skateboarding competition like this — the last time, Harris says, was in the early 2000s, when the Slam City Jam was still active.

“Vancouver is one of those cities in the world that is very famous and one of the top 10 cities in the world [for] skate because of the infrastructure we have,” Harris said.

To change the mentalities

Harris said he was especially excited to see the sport make a comeback in the city, as the outlook on skateboarding has changed dramatically since the 1980s and 1990s.

“He was considered a drug addict and a devil worshipper,” Harris said. “I never did drugs or alcohol in my entire life. I just wanted to be a good skater.”

Professional snowboarders from around the world are in Langley, BC from June 10-12 for the 7 Generations Cup. (Ryan Molag/Langley Event Center)

Skateboarding is now an Olympic sport. Harris also said the pandemic is forcing kids to turn to individual sports and that parents are supporting that interest.

“I’ve never seen it as much of a family sport as ever in my life,” Harris said.

Organizers expect up to 15,000 fans to turn up over the three days, to watch both the cultural ceremonies and the sports spectacle.

Harris said fans will be especially watching White Rock’s Andy Anderson, who competed at the Tokyo Games last summer.

“He’s one of the best in the world right now,” Harris said.

“He’s our local hero here.”

James C. Tibbs