The echoes of the path forward come from the youth of today and they reverberate the same messages we have heard from their role models; the path to better representation lies in visibility. We spoke to 16-year-old David Howes (who prefers to be referred to as Davey), who is the current Canadian novice champion and Skate Canada Challenge gold medalist. He is also a third-generation Chinese Canadian who is connected to his Asian heritage largely through his grandfather and his engagement in his local community.
Davey’s granddad was born in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and as a child lived in Myanmar, China, and Kolkata, India. Davey had a special bond with his granddad and is heavily influenced by him. Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Davey and his family have always been involved in the Chinese community attending festivals, the Lunar New Year and volunteering at the Chinese pavilion.
Davey grew up attending events in Winnipeg related to both his heritage and to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. Davey’s mom, Tina Chen, member of the Skate Canada EDIA Operating Committee, recounts stories of Davey and his older sister wearing peace shirts and marching for numerous causes with her. This meant that over the years, Davey says he “learnt to share what he sees, how he feels and how he’s seen it.”
As a teenager living in Winnipeg, he is very familiar with the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit, and shares that March for Our Lives, an organization focused on creating conversations and actions to end gun violence, has had a significant impact on him. He resonates with the work of authors like James Baldwin.
When speaking with Davey and asking about the involvement of today’s youth and the lens with which our younger generation is approaching change, he shares, “I am always thinking about systemic racism, and its impact on people.” When asked about the way forward and the responsibilities of his generation he iterates, “we need to be involved in pushing to get the changes we need and to have an impact.”
Davey has had many opportunities to visit China since he was young, including visiting Fujian where his great-grandparents were from before they moved to Burma. A visit to Sichuan when he was 6 years old even sparked in him a desire to save the pandas which resulted in six years of fundraisers in his local community. He takes action and talks about change freely. Looking back, he credits his mother for a lot of his current awareness around difficult topics like systemic racism, Indigenous rights, and representation.
As a figure skater, Davey also holds dreams of making the National Team and competing at a world championship one day. When we spoke with him about representation in figure skating, specifically representation of Asian skaters, Davey says, “we do not have too many high-level competitors who are Asian here in Manitoba, and I enjoy being able to represent.”
In addition to his high-performance training, Davey also works as a CanSkate program assistant. When working with young Asian skaters, he has noticed that visibility provides a point of connection. He recounts stories of Asian skaters and parents and how they tend to approach him as a primary point of contact on the ice. As he moves forward in his skating career, he shared that his goal is to just, “keep pushing forward, for more inclusion and representation, specifically in Manitoba.”
“We are seeing more representation generally thanks to organisations like FSDIA (Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance) and people like Elladj Baldé, but we just need to keep pushing to gain inclusivity as skating continues to push on.”
Sometimes progress can feel slow or stagnant, but youth give us hope for a brighter tomorrow. Davey Howes carries that hope. His vision is through a lens of acceptance and his heart is full of drive, both for his skating career and for a more inclusive and anti-racist society, inside and outside of figure skating.
May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and the theme for this year is “stories of determination”. Throughout the month, Skate Canada will host several initiatives dedicated to raising awareness and supporting our community of Asian Skaters.
For more information on upcoming events, click here.