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 under representing 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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A modern explorer recently finished a voyage of walking across Africa entirely by foot and kayak.