TORONTO (October 25, 2018) – Canadian Explorer Mario Rigby, who earlier this year completed his historic expedition Crossing Africa, today responded to Mountain Equipment Co-op CEO’s open letter about “recognizing the role we’ve played in underrepresenting people of colour in the outdoors”, particularly in advertising.
“I started to hear a lot about the lack of diversity in the outdoor industry a few years ago when I began planning my expedition to walk across Africa (Crossing Africa). A simple search on Google of “modern day explorers” showed image-after-image of mostly white men. I certainly don’t mean to take away from their accomplishments – they did fantastic things and I admired and learned so much from them – however, I quickly realized that I would stick out like a sore thumb, seeing as there were less than a handful of black professional Explorers who appeared in search. There was barely any coverage of their work. This needed to change.
When I read Mountain Equipment Co-op CEO’s open letter about diversity and inclusiveness it made me feel like the industry is starting to recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in the outdoor industry. It was refreshing to hear a big company revered by so many Canadians acknowledge their past and commit publicly to change. It takes courage, and it takes leadership. I’m excited to see MEC embrace Canada’s diverse community.”
Rigby recently returned to his current hometown Toronto following a hike with fans in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
“I organized this hike to promote healthy, enjoyable outdoor activities across demographic groups,” said Rigby. “I wanted to help change the narrative about the underrepresentation of people of colour in the outdoors. Huge thanks to Arc’teryx Toronto, Bruce Peninsula National Park, and Life Outside Studio for the support.”
About Mario Rigby
In late November 2015, Mario Rigby set out to fulfill his dream of walking 12,000 kilometers from Cape Town to Cairo, a grueling two-year journey that would be the ultimate test of his physical and mental endurance. Mario chose Africa, a place he’d never been, partly because as a black person he wanted to inspire other black people to pick up, be brave, and explore the world. Mario also wanted to break stereotypes depicting Africa as dangerous, violent, and beset by poverty. Yes, he saw those problems, but his experience on the ground, mixing and conversing with everyday Africans, did not accurately reflect what he read and saw in the news. Rather, it was the incredible warmth and compassion from so many people he met along the way that left the biggest impression on him.
Mario was born in Turks and Caicos Islands and spent his childhood in a small village near Stuttgart, Germany, before moving to Toronto, Canada at age 16. Prior to embarking on Crossing Africa, Mario was one of Toronto’s top fitness experts. He is also a former professional track and field athlete representing Turks and Caicos Islands.
Earlier this year, Mario was recognized as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) Class of 2018 in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (UN IDPAD). This year’s class was recently feted during Recognition Week in honour of the 2018 honourees worldwide, following the opening of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
Mario is currently preparing for his next expedition Project EVA, working on his book, and conducting keynote talks.
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Jim Quan, email@example.com
I started to hear a lot about the lack of diversity in the outdoor industry a few years ago when I began planning my expedition to walk across Africa. A simple search on Google of modern day explorers showed image after image of only white men. I don’t mean to take away from their credit as they did fantastic things and I looked up to and learned a lot from them, however, I quickly realized that I will stick out like a sore thumb, seeing as there were less than a handful of black professional Explorers—and there was barely any coverage of their work. This needed to change!
So with my global expeditions, and the Bruce Trail Camping trip last weekend, which included a diverse group of people, I hope to help change this narrative.
The hikes we took to the Grotto were easy to medium level for the average person, however, since this was my first time leading a large group in the outdoors, I wanted to keep it casual and fun for everyone. The next trip will have options and modifications for different level hikes and rock/boulder climbing.
Overall I think it was a very successful camping experience, though we were rained on, and withstood strong winds on the first day. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, to relish in the quiet outdoors, away from the bustle of the city life. A simple hike in the woods is therapeutic and can really improve your overall health and well-being. One of the guys in our group—who was a first time camper—said “this trip was one of the most therapeutic weekends (he) experienced this year”.
I’d like to extend a big thank you to Riham Hagona who helped organize the trip and coordinated the group logistics via email and daily phone calls. Thanks to Tim Lytle from Arc’Teryx Toronto and Sean Spinkle from Bruce Peninsula Park who believed in my vision and used their positions to aid in the trip’s success! Thanks to Ryan Richardson and Hailey Playfair from www.lifeoutsidestudio.com for their impressive photography and videography skills. And finally, thanks to everyone that came out to have a great time and enjoy the camping trip! Looking forward to doing another one of these trips to highlight the diversity, education, and enjoyment that go hand in hand with being in the outdoors!
ATTN residents of the GTA and beyond:
Are you looking to break the stereotypes of what being an outdoorsy type is? Are you tired of doing the same thing every weekend without fulfilment? Are you ready for a world-class outdoor experience right here in your own backyard? Pay attention, because the following message is just for you!
From October 19 to 21, Mario Rigby, the Canadian-Turks and Caicos Islander explorer who walked and kayaked across Africa, is leading a team of 7 on a camping and hiking trip along the Bruce Trail in Southwestern Ontario.
Rigby's Crossing Africa expedition proved that being an explorer no longer means that you are a young European man crossing the Atlantic Ocean in search of spices and riches.
For this trip, Rigby teamed up with Arc’teryx to create an outdoor experience that will challenge your body and mind, and provide you with an alternative weekend activity.
The purpose of the trip is to promote healthy, enjoyable, outdoor activities across demographic groups. Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us—no matter your state of fitness!
We will set camp at Cyprus Lake for 3 days and 2 nights, with plenty of hiking and exploring in between (see map below for specific trails).
If you are interested in coming along, send a DM on Instagram to @mariorigby or @lovebonezthedj by October 15. Arc’teryx will be sending some representatives to join us at the start or end of the trip.
You will need to bring your own hiking gear and snacks (please see below).
What an honour it was just to witness the last week in New York City with the MIPAD (Most influential People of African Descent under 40) crew. Great connections were made. What MIPAD stands for is black excellence and it is paving the way for current generations and future generations to make positive impact changes in the world today.
My emotions ran wild remembering all that I've gone through when I was welcomedge to be greeted by the president of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada after watching a highlight of Crossing Africa as well as future projects.
What is MIPAD?
In support of the International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by United Nation's General Assembly resolution 68/237 and to be observed from 2015 to 2024, the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) identifies high achievers of African descent in public and private sectors from all around the world as a progressive network of relevant actors to join together in the spirit of recognition, justice and development of Africa, it's people on the continent and across it's Diaspora.
The Video about my next expedition that was shown!
A modern explorer recently finished a voyage of walking across Africa entirely by foot and kayak.