Kristian Basaraba

Recipient of the 2020 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

November 12, 2020

Salisbury Composite High School, Sherwood Park, Alberta

Kristian Basaraba combined skateboard art with a history lesson on Indigenous culture and colonialism in an effort to raise awareness about reconciliation. Over a period of six weeks, his students researched Canada’s history of colonialism and designed skateboard graphics to showcase their learning.

Students worked with Edmonton educator Michel Blades and community leader and professional skateboarder Joe Buffalo to explore Indigenous history and strengthen their understanding of the effects of government policies, legislation and practices on Indigenous cultures and peoples. These conversations helped shed light on how skateboarding can be a form of activism to inspire social change.

Cree artist Jon Cardinal worked closely with the students to share the skills and techniques necessary to convert the teachings of Michel and Joe into skateboard designs that provide social commentary.

They organized a public exhibition at an Edmonton skate shop to showcase their decks and bring awareness to oppression and systemic racism against Indigenous peoples. The exhibit ran for a period of five weeks and received many positive comments and accolades from student peers, the public and school and community leaders.

The dialogue between community stakeholders within these venues and platforms was a testament to the power of skateboarding and how it can be used as a call to action to forge the path to decolonization.