Guelph outdoorsman plans library to make equipment more accessible to BIPOC community


Dionne Daley has been passionate about the outdoors for most of her life.

Daley grew up in a family-centered, white community where camping, hiking, road trips, and skiing were the norm.

“It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how privileged I had to access a lot of these activities and the outdoors that I have always loved,” Daley told CBC KW.

“By discussing with the members of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of colour] community… it has become very clear that there are many barriers to accessing the outdoors and that it is not always the safest or most welcoming space. “

Daley is now looking to open a library in Guelph with a wide range of recreational equipment that members of the BIPOC community can borrow or rent for a small fee.

Dionne Daley hopes to open a library in Guelph with a wide range of recreational equipment that members of the BIPOC community can borrow or rent for a nominal fee. (Gabriel Bizeau Photography)

Daley said there is “a big gap in accessibility” and she hopes to “close that gap, especially in the community of Guelph where there is so much emphasis on the outdoors and nature, enjoying the land and all the benefits that come with being connected with nature. “

All the equipment that accompanies these activities is also quite expensive and this is quite the barrier to entry.– Dionne Daley, outdoor enthusiast from Guelph

For now, Daley is focused on promoting the initiative and collecting donations to make the lending library a reality.

She posted a complete list of necessary items on social networks. People can also email [email protected] for more information.

Daley said all cash donations will be used to purchase new clearance items, repairs, cleaning and storage items.

According to Daley, there’s no reason everyone in the BIPOC community can’t enjoy the outdoors.

Daley remembers going camping or canoeing or doing different activities in nature, and many times people questioned his presence.

“[They] wondering if I was lost, you know, if I didn’t know what I was doing or if I needed help, “she said.

“Some are well-intentioned, but often it was kind of very clear that the outdoors was very white community-oriented and that if you were to be from the black community, native community, or if you were expected to be are a person of color, that you did not belong. “

Daley says there are many barriers for members of the BIPOC community to get involved in outdoor activities. (Submitted by Gabriel Bizeau Photographie)

Many obstacles for the BIPOC community

According to Daley, there are many obstacles preventing members of the BIPOC community from getting involved in outdoor activities.

Often times, these types of activities require transportation and a vehicle first. If you use public transportation, that means you can’t get to campgrounds or ski slopes, no matter what. “she said.

“All the equipment that comes with these activities is also quite expensive and it’s quite the barrier to entry and especially if it’s just something you are trying for the first time to see if it is right for you. don’t have any. access this readily or readily available equipment, then you might not or you might be thinking, “Oh, maybe that’s not for me, that’s not something that I have the opportunity to enter.

“And similarly, if the people around you are also in the same boat, that means if you want to go camping on a weekend, you can’t just call your buddy or your friends who are bound to have it all. material… because you’re unlikely to have these people in your circle, ”Daley said.

Dionne Daley has been passionate about the outdoors for most of her life. (Submitted by Gabriel Bizeau Photographie)

Outdoor recreation equipment lending libraries are nothing new to Canada.

Daley said she took inspiration from many other members of the outdoor community who focus on diversification and access to all communities.

“Many lending libraries have sprung up in North America. In Canada, I know that there is an initiative that is starting in Toronto and that there is another that has just been launched in Ottawa, where the principle is to provide outdoor equipment specifically oriented towards sorting. camping, fishing, things like that, either for low rent or practically for free, which would be my intention as well, ”she said.

“It’s more of a cooperative, community-run lending library, similar to the two libraries that operate out of Guelph, but focus specifically on this type of material and equipment.

A launch date “will depend a lot on what I can get,” Daley said.

“In fact, because it’s just me at the moment, with no other volunteers, I imagine I would feel comfortable having a solid inventory and feeling good about the lending system by line around this time next year. But there is always a chance to be able to run it earlier, and maybe for the winter months where there are specific cross-country skiing activities, to snowshoeing and other types of outdoor activities. “

Participants stop for a break on a hike on the West Humber Trail in Etobicoke hosted by Brown Girl Outdoor World in September 2020. (Submitted by Demiesha Dennis)

In 2018, Demiesha Dennis founded Brown Girl Outdoor World, which she hoped would be a place for BIPOC women – where they could be exhibited and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.

“Brown Girl Outdoor World was created primarily to change the narrative around the outdoor performance and the conversation that members of the BIPOC community, especially the black community, don’t go out as much and don’t do outdoor activities. outdoors, ”she said.

Through the Toronto-based organization, Dennis hosts a range of outdoor events for women throughout the year. Events range from flat water surfing and hiking in the summer to snowshoeing, ice fishing and skiing in the winter. Its objective is to enable many people in the BIPOC community, who do not have the financial means or the opportunities, to participate in these activities.

For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.



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