Hello everyone. And thank you for joining me on theBIPoC Outside podcast. I'm Kris Cromwell. And today we're sitting down with Aaron Marchant. He is the founder and original president of theFirst Nations Snowboard Team. Which over the last 20 years has grown across north America and has now joined up in partnership with the Indigenous Life Sport Academy.
So let's get into it. Aaron. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really excited to have this conversation and appreciate your time. So you are currently in Squamish, looks like a beautiful day and you grew up there. So tell me about your introduction to snowboarding, to snow sports.
My introduction to snowboarding was in grade four when I went skiing and I learned how to ski for about three years and then snowboarding came out and I skateboarded. So it was a natural fit. I wanted to try it. I was very fortunate. I have. I'm half Indigenous and my grandmother, my mom's side of the Caucasian side supported me, get me seasons passes to go to Whistler Blackcomb, living about a half an hour away from there.
It became my new weekend activity. I loved it. I did it with a lot of other friends I went to school with, but I did not do it with my cousins, my Indigenous side very often, or that side of the family. And as I got older equipment got more expensive. You know, people who have the privilege to have good equipment got it.
And I had my pass and I would go to the used swap meets to get my new snowboard. I was very excited. And and I just love had the passion for it. And then I moved to Smithers with my mom and there was nothing to do. So I just found a jump and built a big jump. Would be out there all day. And and then I came back to Vancouver. Because I moved around a lot as a young child. And I went to many different schools, met many different people and realized that like, snowboarding was just a good outlet. It was a nice place where you just, you and the mountain is very calm and fun, but it was when I started to work for the Squamish Nation community.
And. I was up snowboarding one weekend. And and I seen some kids from the Squamish community, three of them. I was quite surprised to see them up there. And I worked with them during the youth program. And so I said to them, let's go with this, go do it. We went to go do a run. We went to go do a run and they were really good. They were really good. And so I thought it'd be good to get them into competition if we could. So I checked into it and you have to be part of a club. The entrances were like $3,000 to join the club and that's just to join, and then you need the equipment. You need to go training at different places.
So I realized that this is pretty challenging and working with Squamish Nation, the communications department, the Olympics were coming to Vancouver. So there's a lot of talk about doing things, program sport. So friend of mine, We put a budget together, what it would actually cost to give us a group going to compete.
And it was quite deflating because there's no way we can get that much funding. Until we
Won the games and there was going to be an Aboriginal youth sport legacy fund. So. Our Chief said, Aaron, let's get that program going. And then he introduced me to Steve Podborski from CORECTION who said lets not just do it for your community, but do it for all BC, if not Canada, if we can.
And so that was great. We had momentum. We had a program, the mountains were calling us, wanting to partner, and we were building relationships at many different ski hills and because we had the capacity, we had the funding with sport and the desire the momentum was there. And so I think we got up to about 24 divisions from coast to coast.