Go Big Or Stay Home: Seven In Ten Canadian Boomers Have A Travel Bucket List

A recent national survey commissioned by MEC – Canada’s go-to place for outdoor gear and know-how – and conducted by Environics Research shows that people of colour (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 by outdoor industry imagery and marketing strategies.

The Environics Research 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. The findings are significant because, irrespective of activity, outdoor recreation is generally portrayed as a white domain in advertising and marketing.

people of colour spend more time and participate in a wider range of outdoor activities than white people

Data findings reveal:

  • Incidences of participation in outdoor activities are 8% higher among POC than white people.
  • On average, POC spend three more hours per week partaking in outdoor activities when compared with white people.
  • 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 fewer than two in ten white people (14%).
Other activities show parity or near parity in participation among POC and white people. While one in five Canadians surveyed participate in road cycling, the numbers are virtually identical for white people and POC. The same pattern holds true for hiking and camping: one in three Canadians – white people and POC alike – hike, while approximately one in ten enjoy camping outdoors.

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.”

In September 2018, Labistour was the first Canadian CEO to sign the Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge. Administered through the Diversify Outdoors coalition, the pledge is guided by four principles:
  1. Hiring and supporting a diverse workforce and executive leadership.
  2. Presenting representative marketing and advertising in the media.
  3. Engaging and supporting broadly representative ambassador athletes.
  4. Sharing our experiences with other leading brands.
The principles will guide MEC’s ongoing work to address diversity and inclusion, which currently includes:
  • Cultural diversity inclusion: Recruitment of qualified MEC board candidates with diverse cultural identities; engagement and support of an internal Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee; pilot communications in languages other than English and French; partnerships with organizations that support diversity in the outdoors; commissioning of three short documentary films by leading Canadian filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, including Escape, by Anjali Nayar, Ziyóu (Freedom), by Goh Iromoto and Facing Sunrise, by Julia Kwan.
  • LGBTQ2S+ inclusion: Queer competency training; safe space signage and gender-neutral bathroom signage; supportive gender-diverse transitioning protocol.
  • Indigenous allyship: Tools to help avoid cultural appropriation; capturing insights from Indigenous staff; implementing land acknowledgements; partnerships with organizations supporting outdoor activity with Indigenous communities.
  • Inclusion of people with disabilities: Internal accessibility audit; partnerships with organizations that support individuals with disabilities to be active outdoors.
To learn more about MEC’s efforts and to read CEO David Labistour’s open letter to MEC members, please visit mec.ca/diversity.

Learn more about MEC


About the Study

The survey was conducted through an online panel and comprised 1,320 Canadians in each of two waves conducted during Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. Results were weighted by age, gender and region to reflect 2016 Canadian census. The identities of those surveyed were self-identified.

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