Sandy Ward, from Lil’wat Nation, is doing what she loves in the outdoors, from snowboarding, to climbing and mountain biking. She is a backcountry enthusiast and snowboard instructor. She hopes to influence more Indigenous youth to get into the outdoors — and is a member of Indigenous Women Outdoors (IWO), which was founded by Myia Antone.
Colour the Trails caught up with Sandy on her love for the outdoors, integrating Indigenous knowledge and creating spaces for Indigenous women with Indigenous Women Outdoors.
On getting into the outdoors
The reason I really got into the outdoors was because of the First Nations Snowboard Team. I had wanted to snowboard, so I ended up buying a snowboard with my first paycheck from my first job, and a friend teaching me. I broke my wrist the first time, actually, but that didn’t stop me!
When I had been snowboarding for a year or two, I got a call from the First Nations Snowboard Team. They wanted to put together a group of Indigenous youth to work towards getting a First Nations person on the podium at the 2010 Olympics — so I went for it. I trained really hard and I met amazing people. It really got me into the mindset of being an outdoor recreationalist and athlete, so I branched out into other sports from that. I really do think that without the First Nations Snowboard Team, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.
On becoming a part of IWO
Actually, it was through Facebook. I was tagged in one of Myia’s posts looking for other Indigenous women who were involved in backcountry skiing and I’ve always been known within my community as “the snowboarder”. I messaged Myia, and we got together last September. Myia had organised a hiking program for the Squamish Nation and was branching out when I met her. We thought to get both Lil’wat and Squamish Nation involved. IWO all evolved from her hiking program, which was very successful. We hit it off immediately and decided to partner in doing a backcountry program.