International Women’s Day Spotlight Series: Michelle Blackburn
This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Michelle, one of our Indigenous guides that operates on Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc territory (Kamloops) within the unceded traditional lands of the Secwepemc Nation. From being the volunteer Vice President of her daughter’s First Nation snowboard team to The Indigenous Outdoor Program Coordinator with the Unique Get Together Society, I couldn’t have chatted with a more inspiring woman to feature for International Women’s Day!
Michelle comes from the Tahltan First Nation. She explained to me how she grew up connected to the land, seldom wearing shoes and always exploring the nature around her.
“My father used to talk about me saving the mountains when I grew up and it inspired me to get outside”.
After working a variety of jobs such as a BC Backcountry Forest Ranger (working with hunting parties), environmental monitor, and environmentalist, Michelle found her calling in eco-tourism. Through eco-tourism, Michelle is able to share her passion, knowledge, and connection to the land and her culture.
She strives to make the outdoors accessible for all, regardless of gender, race, age, and financial backgrounds. Simply put, Michelle stresses the importance of everyone having access to the land and outdoors.
“Getting outside is a way for us to connect with and honor our ancestors, it is a grounding and healing experience”
One of her newest initiatives was founding The Daughters of The Alliance, an online Facebook community where “women from all cultures and races help each other re-connect to the land to make their Spirits sing”.
Working with organizations like Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Michelle is working towards sourcing gear for women, empowering them so they can get outside and connect to nature without worry about financial barriers. Moreover, The Daughter of the Alliance group members share their outdoor knowledge, adventures, and workshops with each other. At the core, it’s a safe space for women to lift each other up and gain independence in the outdoors.
If you are interested in learning more and chatting with Michelle, check out her snowshoeing adventures. You’ll be sure to walk away feeling inspired, with a smile on your face, and a ton of new knowledge!
If you or someone you know is interested in getting outside but is facing barriers, the UGTS is a great resource to reach out to.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY