Interview: Brigid Rae
Photographs: Jade Pattenden

Brigid Rae
Taylor–Lee Koble

Introduce yourself and what you do:

Tawnshi, dishinikawshon Taylor, Niya Michif Nehiyaw Iskwew ouschi Saint Laurent De Grandin, Saskatchewan (Treaty 6 Territory). Hi I’m Taylor, I’m a Métis Cree Woman, and my ancestral homelands are in the Saint Laurent De Gradin settlement territory in Saskatchewan. I was born and grew up in East Vancouver on ancestral, unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. My friend Ryme & I started TakeOver Skateboarding, a women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ & 2s centred movement. Taking over skateparks, reclaiming space, and fostering art & community by diversifying the skate scene.

Favorite compliment you’ve received about yourself:

A friend told me recently that I was precious and important. She told me to value my growth and impact. It meant a lot to me.

What is TakeOver Skateboarding?

Takeover Skateboarding is a women's, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and 2S centered movement, led by BIPOC femmes. We are creating a safe space for those who have historically been and are currently marginalized and underrepresented within skateboarding. We aim to offer and encourage peer learning and support both in skating and beyond. Fostering play is our act of resistance, we are using skating and art as vehicles for radical conversations and movements. Our work is to encourage BIPOC youth to engage in fun and radical joy, to offer them space and safety to explore their own identities and interests. Through community donations we are able to make accessible boards, gear and clothing to those with less income security. We want to emphasize the importance of acknowledging the peoples whose land we have the opportunity and privilege to do this work upon “Vancouver”, the ancestral, unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples.

What's been the most rewarding part of these takeovers?

For myself the most rewarding part of the takeovers was being able to witness a visible shift in who was skateboarding in “Vancouver”, I’ve been seeing a lot more femmes, a lot more Black & Brown folks, a lot more queer folks. That’s exciting. For this, a lot of credit needs to go to Ryme (Lahcene) and her ability to reach folks and make them welcome within what she has created in these meetups. I have had young Indigenous femmes reach out and share how meaningful it is for them to see me being visible within skateboarding, to me that is the greatest gift. That representation must never be taken for granted, good representation is so so important.

As an Indigenous femme, in a society that tells you and so many other marginalized individuals that you shouldn’t exist and that you don’t belong, Take Over Skateboarding has fostered an environment and community that tells you that you do belong. Finding and creating that community, what's been the ripple effect in how you see yourself in this world as a result?

From the beginning, Ryme and I had conversations around space. How much space do we take up as BIPOC women, how do we begin reclaiming these spaces. My relationship with how I see myself has been able to grow from having those conversations. I see myself more fully and therefore allow me to be seen more truthfully and deeply by those around me. In a world telling me I shouldn’t exist, being authentic in white male-dominated spaces such as skateboarding is a radical act, and I am forever grateful to those who help me feel safe enough to do so. Society may be telling us as BIPOC individuals that we shouldn’t exist and don’t belong, but that is the very reason we must be so vigilant in telling ourselves and each other how very much we matter. White people can do that as well, tell the Black, Indigenous, and other POC folks in your circles that they matter, remind them that they are important, remind them of the value they add to this world, let them know they are welcome.

Maybe the toughest barriers in skateboarding are in the actual social circle. The racism, sexism, and homophobia that are prevalent in such a eurocentric cis-gendered male-dominated environment. Do you see the skateboarding community actively being responsible to remove those barriers and call out racism, sexism and homophobia in the community or is that work being left to those who are most harmed by it?

I think that is a very hard question to answer. Simply because these perspectives of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ect. are so deeply ingrained into the fabric of our society as a whole. Working to dismantle White Supremacy and Heteropatriarchy within skateboarding is going to mean every person working to dismantle that within themselves first. That is work which, at the end of the day, though necessary, is a huge undertaking. Most white folks, due to the privilege they have grown up with, have not had to be in a position to consider others in a meaningful way. Privilege breeds entitlement, which can only be combated by education and empathy. Many white people are only now having to consider the human rights issues and inequality that BIPOC folks have had to grow up with an awareness of. Mistakes will be made in this time of learning, the biggest issue within that is accountability. How are white people being held accountable by each other, and themselves, so that as you said it’s not those who are harmed that are being held to explain themselves time and time again. White people & non-Black & non-Indigenous POC must learn to de-centre themselves while holding hard conversations.

How do you stay authentic to yourself and others?

Authenticity to me is recognizing that I am constantly shifting, changing and growing. It means being honest through my faults and shortcoming while allowing space for myself to learn. Authenticity to me is treating myself warmly and patiently, with kindness and care. It is feeling pride in how far I’ve come and everything I have accomplished. Authenticity to me is knowing myself as objectively as possible and allowing myself space to exist as feels right on any given day. It means accepting that no two days will be the same, sometimes there will be overwhelming joy, some are full of deep sadness or anger, and that is okay. Authenticity to me is interacting with myself and others without judgments or expectations. It means fostering deep love and meaningful care in all my relationships as well as with myself.

Using our latest collections campaign as a mode, we interviewed and photographed 6 people here within our Vancouver community. These voices are loud, these voices and bodies are bold, these bodies and voices are tired, they're grieving, they’re healing, they’re celebrating, they’re resilient, and they’re a conduit for change, each on their own trajectory to see a change and shift in power.

Each person that spoke with us selected a charity to support. Taylor has selected a Surgery fund to help a trans Latina. If you are able and choose to make a contribution (big or small), email us your receipt to hello@wolfcircus.com and receive a 20% off discount code between October 1–6.