MEC Bust Myths of Outdoor Diversity

A recent national survey commissioned by Canadian outdoor retailer shows that people of color (POC) spend more time and participate in a wider range of outdoor activities than white people. These findings run contrary to the prevailing belief that outdoor recreation is dominated by white people – a myth often perpetuated in outdoor industry imagery and marketing strategies.

The study measured the participation rates of 2,640 adults, representative of the Canadian population, across 17 different outdoor activities, including jogging, hiking, camping and cycling. Data findings revealed tha incidences of participation in outdoor activities are 8% higher among POC than white people. POC on average spend three more hours per week partaking in outdoor activities when compared with white people, and POC are more likely than white people to participate in climbing (23% vs. 10%) and snow sports (17% vs. 10%).

Three in ten POC (29%) jog or run compared to only under two in ten among white people (14%).

Other activities show parity or near parity in participation among POC and white people.

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In an open letter to its members, MEC CEO David Labistour writes, “We can’t move forward until we acknowledge our past. Historically, the models we’ve used in our catalogues and campaigns and on mec.ca have been predominantly white. And this imagery has perpetuated the vastly incorrect notion that people of colour in Canada don’t ski, hike, climb or camp. This letter is about recognizing the role we’ve played in underrepresenting people of colour in the outdoors, and committing to change.”

For MEC, diversity goes beyond advertising and brand imagery. With more than 5 million members and 2,500 employees, MEC is committed to becoming more inclusive and diverse at all levels of the organization.

Nahal Yousefian, who leads MEC’s People Experience team, says, “Diversity and inclusiveness go hand in hand. Yet to be truly inclusive, it involves addressing unconscious biases, creating opportunities for advancement and celebrating the contributions and perspectives each individual is uniquely able to provide.”

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