BC Couple Commission Indigenous Art for Skateboards – Smithers Interior News
It is a business enterprise of seven generations.
The culmination of that time and effort – Indigenous artwork displayed on skateboards and vital cultural connections that might not otherwise have been made.
South Surrey couple Brenda Knights and Jason Bothe (aka Renee Renee) launched their business, Bentwood Skateboards, in early 2021. They also run a charity called Indigiskate which runs camps across the province.
“For the camps, we hire Indigenous professionals who teach kids to skateboard so they have mentors from our culture that they can look up to,” Knights said.
Knights is a member of the Kwantlen First Nation and also traces his lineage back to Musqueam and Choctaw. She is a descendant of Grand Chief Wattlekanium of the Kwantlen people, who met the Simon Fraser Expedition and welcomed the first visitors to present-day British Columbia.
“My daughter and my son represent the seventh generation since Chief Wattlekanium and in my culture we say it takes seven generations to change,” she said.
This inspired 7 Generations Skateboard, an organization that counts Knights among its founding board members. They hold professional skateboarding events across the province to invest in Indigenous performers, skaters and performers.
“There are these seven laws that I was taught: health, happiness, humility, generations, generosity, forgiveness and understanding. These are values that we want to share in the world of skateboarding,” Knights said.
The first set of boards was designed by Jean Paul Langlois who is a Métis artist based in Vancouver. His triptych painting titled Stinky and Zeke vs the Garbage Bear is displayed on three boards that Bentwood sells on his website.
Plans for more decks are underway, and Knights already has its sights set on a few more artists it wants to collaborate with for the upcoming launch, she said.
Bothe grew up skateboarding but now focuses on hosting sporting events and contributing to the community. He leads Autism Skate Days, which he started six years ago with the aim of bringing autistic children and their siblings together to teach them how to skateboard. Now, the event takes place under the aegis of the company SUPA, which was founded to teach children with autism to surf.
By fusing Bothe’s skateboarding culture with the Knights’ Indigenous culture, the two have created safe spaces to promote healthy lifestyles where Indigenous youth can learn skateboarding skills, Knights said.
“We make sure we hire and find Indigenous businesses to help us and we just participate in implementing reconciliation… It’s not just on the shoulders of non-Indigenous people, Indigenous people have to be on the shoulders as well. table. ”
The couple’s inaugural event, a skateboarding competition called the 7 Generations Cup, will be held at the Langley Events Center from June 10-12. At the event and in their camps, various native vendors, powwow dancers, drummers and singers are employed.
A sculpted skateable canoe will also be used during the competition.
With all of Knights and Bothe’s skateboard ventures, the ultimate goal is to one day see an Indigenous person compete in the Olympics for skateboarding.
“Our employees are visual learners and that just exposes those things to kids and sparks the idea that they can potentially compete at that level,” she said.