20-year-old Detroit native Zwena Gray has embarked on a six-week, 559-mile-long hike through the full length of Bruce Trail, the longest and oldest marked continuous Underground Railroad passage in Canada.
Gray is a student at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. She majors in environmental studies and science and is pursuing a minor in gender and social justice studies, according to WDET.org.
The young adventurer wants her trek to “showcase Black Joy” and encourage other people of color to educate themselves about nature and feel a sense of freedom in the great outdoors.
“Being from Detroit, I really wanted to bring that connection to nature to my community,” Gray told the outlet. “It’s not only important for Black people to be present in these natural environments, but it’s also important for us to showcase just the freedom and liberation and just ease of existing and these spaces.”
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The 20-year-old highlighted her hope to learn about the escaped enslaved travelers along the Bruce Trail and hear stories regarding their lives and legacies via contemporary historians.
Gray will also share content about other aspects of her trip, such as how she’s fairing on her journey and what she picks up on along the way.
“I’m going to be making natural hair videos, do videos about how do you handle your period in the outdoors, and even doing fun stuff like tent talks every week for my Instagram,” she explained. “And then I’ll also be having YouTube videos kind of more educational about the historians that I talked to and the areas that I go through — more of a day-to-day thing.”
Gray shared she’s traveling with a friend and that the pair mostly hikes “in silence,” Black Like Us reports.
The two set off on their journey in late April.
The Blue Trail runs from Southen Ontario’s Niagara River to Tobermory, which is located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula.
“An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 freedom seekers entered Canada during the last decades of enslavement in the US,” according to The Canadian Encyclopedia, and the country became “the terminus of the Underground Railroad,” per the source’s account.
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