The East Van Skate Crows are privileged to be skating on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples – the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We thank the incredible Indigenous peoples past and present for protecting, defending, and caring for the land of Turtle Island.
With the pandemic bringing lockdown last year, many of the Skate Crows were the last batch of people who were able to get roller skates before the pandemic and increased demand shut roller skate production down locally and worldwide. Those of us who were lucky enough to get a pair last summer did so as a way to keep occupied in our new reality, and instead, we were plunged into the rich world of roller skating. Through the online global community, we quickly learned that although there was this increased interest in roller skating in 2020, the roller skating community had been thriving long before the pandemic started because of all the Black and Brown skaters worldwide who jam skate and dance skate in all different regional styles in the rinks. The viral ability of roller skating as we knew it came from Black skaters and Black culture, and has been intertwined and enriched as such. Some of us had purchased skates to learn more about dance skating, like in Richard Humphrey (@richardhumphrey) or Star Harris (@juststarah) style, some had purchased skates even prior to the pandemic with the intention to learn derby from Rolla Skate Club (@rollaskateclub), and some just wanted to solo skate the seawall.
In June of 2020, CIB Vancouver (@cibvancouver) had a roller skating meet up at one of the local skate parks, right as restrictions had eased after a long lockdown and low COVID numbers. For me personally, I never knew people could roller skate at the skateparks until I saw local skater Alexis (@bruized) online, and I was in awe. When I saw that she was helping to host this meet up for roller skaters in the skate park, and seeing that they were encouraging beginners who were interested in learning more about park skating for roller skaters, I attended. There were many longtime park skaters, as well as beginner skaters who attended that night. Many of the beginners exchanged social media information to keep in touch for skate dates, so that we could learn at the same pace, and soon, a group of us became fast friends. As the summer continued, we kept in touch online and began organically meeting every weekend morning at a particular skate park. We started learning together, and so we also started documenting our learning and experiences together, as a fairly unique circumstance group of skaters.
That’s when the @eastvanskatecrows Instagram came to life. I started taking more film photos of our group of friends, skating and spending time together, and we further channeled our lockdown boredom into two 90’s inspired zines, documenting our extraordinary experience of learning, bonding, and surviving together.
That’s really how I see this group. We kept each other’s head’s above water just enough to survive the past 14+ months.
We want the East Van Skate Crows group and social media to help further document, amplify, and increase visibility for roller skaters – think like @seasonsofeastvan but roller skaters in skate parks. We are here. Although the roller skating community is extremely dedicated, it is smaller in numbers comparatively to sports like skateboarding and biking/cycling, and does not have the same funding, advocacy, coalitions, access, and visibility as such. Roller skating consists of a lot of women, queer, trans* and non-binary people, and people of colour, and has historically and presently not received as much attention, support, and sponsorships as white male-dominated sports. This has led to an underrepresentation of roller skaters of any kind in public skate parks, as many feel intimidated and bullied, especially as beginners. Being a visible minority in the skate park is difficult, and then being a visible minority on roller skates at the skate park can make you a target for harassment. We hope our presence and occasional events and meetups help give further advocacy, funding, and confidence to marginalized skaters who are looking to challenge themselves, make friends, get involved with their communities and green spaces, have fun, and play.