Having previously met with one of the co-founders of the Rad Girls Collective, Gariele, along with her partner, Brandon, and their daughter, Aria, I was keen to meet with the other Collective co-founder, Kayleen. I have a ton of respect for the community Gariele and Kayleen are building, supporting women to connect, get outside, and pursue their passions (check out their recently-launched #wearitoutside collaboration with MEC and the MEC Outdoor Nation), so I relished the opportunity to hear the other half of the Rad Girl story and to gain a better understanding of what had motivated it. So I reached out to Kayleen and told her I'd meet her any place along the coast that had a particular resonance for her.
"I picked this spot, Kitty Islet, because a couple of weeks ago I was snorkeling and saw a Giant Pacific octopus right down there. I’m making my way around the coastline, snorkeling, just to check out all the different spots, which is why I had a hard time choosing where we should meet because I like all the little areas, but that experience definitely stood out.
My strongest connection to the coast is through sailing. I grew up boating in Courtenay, and at age 10 we got a sailboat. I’ve sailed around the Island twice and down to Mexico once with my family. I definitely see sailing as part of my future. I actually just took out my parents’ 34-foot sailboat and sailed it single-handed for the first time last week. That was awesome! My goal is to leave from here next September to do the South Pacific. And I keep telling people because I’m so determined to make it happen so now I can’t go back on it. I have a friend who’s interested in coming - she doesn’t have any sailing experience, but there are always people who are game, maybe some Rad Girls.
I was 13 and 14 the two times we sailed around the Island. We took a month each time. The things I remember? The wildness and ruggedness of the West Coast, just us and the fishing boats, anchoring off these super-remote beaches that were untouched and looked tropical. Realizing that not many people let alone kids my age get to experience something like that. The albatross around Cape Scott were a really cool experience. Being surrounded by breaching Humpbacks and seeing Basking Sharks which not many people get to see. Discovering these big Moon Fish.
Rugged is the best way to describe it; untouched from society - today’s society anyway. I think spending those times on the boat, sailing around the Island gave me a bigger respect for our land and the people who have lived here. One of the most memorable experiences was seeing Mamalilaculla on Village Island southwest of the Knight Inlet - seeing the fallen totem poles there. Having a better understanding of what really is around us here - the wildlife, the land, the people.
Now, I would describe my relationship with this place one of grounding. Belonging. Calmness. Even though I’ve seen the ocean at some of its wildest, it always brings me - even in those moments - to a place of feeling super-connected and grounded. If I have a shitty day I can come down to the ocean and after a while all my worries are gone."