GET TO KNOW
What woman/identifying woman has made the biggest impact on you (friend, mentor, relative, historical figure, or anyone who has been influential to you)?
LARISSA: Zyra Nova Hunchak, my four-year-old daughter (see pictures attached above). I speak to her impact in this video.
If you could give advice to the younger you, what would you say?
LARISSA: Decolonize your relationship to time, hunny. How people culturally understand, use and relate to time has been weaponized as a tool of colonization, and addressing how contemporary societal, organizational, and personal practices continue this legacy is important in building relationships with Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. So redefine what valuable use of time means to you, and lead your life accordingly. What is the impact of your current relationship to time on your health and your family? I know being outside, honouring your mental and physical health, and sharing time with your daughter, is important to you; how are you creating space for doing this in your regular routines?
Do you feel the outdoor experience (from local parks to the backcountry to anywhere in between) is different for identifying women than it is for those who identify as men?
LARISSA: I very rarely speak about women as a monolith, and especially if we’re talking about outdoor experiences we need to acknowledge how race shapes women’s access and treatment. White women are well represented in mainstream outdoor education, support groups, institutional leadership, and marketing; while they face barriers associated with patriarchy, they will benefit from the dominance of Whiteness in the sector and other spaces in their lives. Black, Indigenous, and racialized women are very differently represented in the sector, and systemically face barriers that disproportionately impact our access and experiences of being outdoors. Black, Indigenous, and racialized men too face significant barriers that women who benefit from Whiteness won’t need to consider, such as being racially profiled by police, rangers, and other hikers. While I often see this tendency to being more comfortable to talk about gender, rather than race, at the very least this intersection cannot be left out of the conversation.
What’s your favourite way to experience the simple power of being outside?
LARISSA: I am spiritually connected to land, especially the lands where my ancestors belonged to, which makes being outside so much more than a hobby. I am a land-based learner and recognize it is my most significant source of education, which makes being outside so much more than an escape. I rely on land-based medicine as I manage my chronic pain disability, which makes being outside so much more than refreshing. I understand the land as an extension of myself and my identity, which makes being outside an experience of my own power, of Her power, of the power of those before us, and of the power of those after us.