Tosh Sherkat bouldering in Pass Creek. Photo: Liam Barnes

Nelson climbers raise racism awareness with video

Tula and Tosh Sherkat and Rossland director Liam Barnes collaborated on the video

Submitted

Bouldering, a popular style of rock climbing, is trending in the West Kootenay like never before thanks to the release of the area’s first bouldering guidebook. Among those in the centre of the action are Rossland-born filmmaker Liam Barnes and Nelson rock climbers Tosh and Tula Sherkat, who are capturing the area’s biggest and hardest climbs on film.

Their new 10-minute video documents several historic first ascents, but they aren’t sharing it with just anybody. First, Barnes and Sherkat are directing attention to more urgent social issues related to climbing and current events.

In recent months, the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor by American police have brought ongoing protests such as those held by Black Lives Matter against racism and police brutality to the forefront of mainstream media.

Inclusive representation of Black, Indigenous and peoples of colour in the outdoors has also received a much-needed spotlight. Rock climbing, a sport dominated by white people, is seeing more engagement on this subject through established organizations such as Brown Girls Climb, Color the Crag, and Indigenous Womxn Climb.

“We are creating content about local climbing, but we don’t want to take the spotlight off of more important causes,” says Tosh Sherkat. “Viewers will receive our video after they take action on behalf of whatever anti-discrimination movement they choose.”

The process is simple and honour-based.

1. Select a cause against violence and discrimination. 2. Make a contribution (donation, petition, volunteer, etc.) 3. Email or text the name of the cause you have supported to boulderingaction@gmail.com (preferred) or 250-921-5513 and you will automatically receive a link to the video, which is hidden on YouTube, no questions asked.

One-time gestures are a step in the right direction, but, as Lanisha Lee Blount points out in her anti-racism resources article for Climbing Magazine, “Concern is that people believe a one-time donation will suffice. If this is where allyship begins and ends, diversity will only exist on our social media feeds.”

“Through this project, we hope to learn more about what people out there are supporting,” Barnes adds, “so that we can better understand our next steps as allies and climbers.”

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