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Breaking Down Barriers: The Adventures of Mario Rigby

As a charity operating in Canada since 1969, Outward Bound Canada knows that the outdoor sector still has a long way to go when it comes to diversity. That’s why we created the Outward Bound Canada Training Academy for Outdoor Professionals

Launched in 2022 as an initiative of Outward Bound Canada, the Training Academy was created to address the representation gap in the outdoor sector while also providing technical skill development and social and emotional competencies to enable Canada’s next generation of outdoor leaders to respond to the evolving needs of Canada’s diverse population. This program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program as an investment in the economic recovery of the outdoor sector.

That’s why we’re excited to host a virtual conversation with eco-explorer and entrepreneur Mario Rigby on February 21 in celebration of Black History Month.

During the event, Mario Rigby will talk about his experiences as an explorer,
the impact his adventures
around the world have had on his life, and his impressions and expectations of the outdoor sector.

man kayaking on blue water

From insights into the industry to building resilience and perseverance through deep exploration and trials that only the great outdoors can provide, you’ll experience an engaging hour that is sure to inspire your own adventurous journey.

About Mario Rigby’s outdoor experiences

Mario Rigby was born in the Turks & Caicos Islands, grew up in Germany and moved to Toronto, Canada at the age of 16. His passion for pushing boundaries was evident from his childhood, whether it was in athletics or exploring. His entrepreneurial spirit and athletic ability led him to open a business in the fitness industry in Toronto, but he yearned for a more ambitious pursuit.

This desire to explore and connect with the world around him sparked the idea of the Crossing Africa Expedition. In 2015, Mario embarked on a two-year odyssey across the continent, walking and kayaking from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt. Along the way, he connected with communities and shared their stories with the world to bridge the gap between people. His mission was to encourage people to be brave and explore the world.
man scubra diving with shark

Mario is a passionate champion of diversity in the outdoors and inspires people to explore the world sustainably. His stories of personal growth and courage remind us of the importance of facing our fears and tackling global issues. Mario hopes to motivate others to join him on his next journey and took the time to tell us more about his experiences ahead of his webinar on February 21:

Your adventures have taken you to unexplored spaces. Can you tell us about a moment that was particularly challenging or eye-opening and how it shaped your connection to the great outdoors?

My trek through the Wild Coast of South Africa was particularly challenging because it was the first time I was truly on my own, and completely surrounded by wildlife and nature. I had to learn new survival skills and push myself mentally to continue my journey.

As a Black eco-explorer, you were a trailblazer in the outdoor sector and a pioneer for BIPoC folks who want to join in these spaces. What barriers have you encountered when entering these spaces and how did you overcome them?

For me, we’re mainly limited by our own beliefs. It may be tough to push through, but for me, toughness equals will. I had the will to get through these expeditions, no matter if there were people who didn’t support me or thought it was out of my element. Once I set my mind to it, that’s it.

mario rigby selfie in desert

Your journey isn’t only personal, but also helps to promote diversity in the outdoor sector. How can organisations and individuals actively work towards a more inclusive outdoor community?

Start educating yourself, learn from other explorers and from explorers who look like you – in my defense, I’ve to say that’s only a select few individuals, myself included. Most of what I needed I learned through YouTube videos, books and articles – for free. The next step is to just go out and do it. What stops most people is their own doubts and listening to the naysayers.

Unfortunately, there are still stereotypes about who belongs in the outdoor sector. How do you confront these stereotypes in your work and in your everyday life?

Most of the time I laugh at these stereotypes and then set about changing them. We all belong in the great outdoors. It’s fundamentally human and we all need to have a say in how we enjoy and use outdoor spaces.

We’re excited that we’ll soon be hosting a webinar where you’ll share more of your adventures. What can participants expect from this event and how will it empower them on their own journeys?

They can hear from my own voice that I and few others have paved the way, you just need to smoothen the surface. 

The history of exploration isn’t just that of white Europeans; Africans sailed across the Atlantic and to the West Indies long before Europeans. History, which creates the foundation of who you are, is written by the victors. Let’s change that narrative and write a more inclusive, colourful and true history!

Join the adventure!

Are you ready to break boundaries and embrace the spirit of exploration? Sign up today to join us on Wednesday, February 21 at 7pm ET (4pm PT) on an adventure with Mario Rigby!

Register for the webinar.