Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Trails, Mountain Biking & Reconciliation

I've started this blog as a means to document and explore the issues around trails, mountain biking and reconciliation between First Nations and Canadians.

Over the past several years I've been working as a community planner assisting First Nation communities to plan and build multi-use nature trails in and around their communities for recreation as well as for economic development and tourism.  The communities I have worked with view trails as an opportunity to encourage and support actively living and reconnecting with the land and nature, particularly among youth.  In addition, they see significant opportunities for fostering sustainable economic development that reflects their culture, heritage and values and for asserting their role as the caretakers and stewards of their territories.

As part of this work I've seen numerous kids and community members getting out enjoying trails.   I've seen the incredible impact it can have as elders, youth and families get outdoors walking, hiking and biking together.  It has provided a far greater understanding of how the Indigenous people of Turtle Island view their relationship and responsibilities towards the land.

I have also worked with numerous non-First Nation communities throughout British Columbia developing and implementing strategies and action plans to establish or enhance their trails and infrastructure for mountain bike recreation and tourism.  Mountain bike recreation and tourism is a rapidly growing sector within BC and many communities are making significant investments in trails and infrastructure as a means for attracting and retaining residents as well as tourists.  For many communities, trails and recreation, and mountain biking in particular represent an opportunity for diversifying their economies away from a reliance on the cycles of boom and bust within the natural resources sectors.

Mountain biking can be a humbling act and sharing a ride has the power to bridge divides and bring people together.

BC is the spiritual home for mountain biking with world-class trails and parks that attract riders from around the world.  The trails we build tell a story about who we are.  In order to ensure the sustainability of the sport, and the trails we love, the mountain bike community must engage in a process of reconciliation and build trails in partnership the first people's of Turtle Island.

It is my hope that this blog will become a resource for those within the trails and mountain bike sector interested in building and fostering relationships with First Nation communities, as well as a part of the critically important dialogue around decolonization and reconciliation.  The blog will review ongoing projects as well as highlight and profile successful trail and mountain bike projects that have been undertaken by Canadians and First Nations, their lessons learned and experiences.

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