As part of the Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program, we are always seeking to gain a greater understanding of what mountain biking means to the Indigenous people and riders we meet a long the way. Working with my brother and founder of Tree Meter Productions - a film venture we started to document the projects and experiences we have exploring mountain biking in BC - we embarked on an effort to profile some of the amazing people we meet and, when we're lucky, share a ride.
Our first Rider Profile, Melody Markle (30), is from the Anishinabeg community of Long Point Winneway First Nation in the unceded territory of the Anishnabe Aki located in the Abitibi-Temescamingue region of Western Quebec.
We spent some time with Melody this past year riding on the North Shore of Vancouver and in the South Chilcotin region. Melody provides an articulate and passionate description of what mountain biking and trail riding means for her as an Aboriginal woman and the impact that it has had on her life.
Melody started riding in 2008 and was immediately captivated with how it pushes and tests her courage and her bravery.
As someone who strives to walk a traditional path that reflects her culture and heritage, Melody was struck by how mountain biking brings people and communities together.
“I Love the sense of community once you enter the mountain bike circle and the fact that there is a lot of welcoming mentors who are on the trail who can be complete strangers and they’re willing to show you some different techniques”
Melody believes that mountain biking has tremendous potential to have a positive impact on the health and well being of Aboriginal communities.
“It’s a healing tool for me because I know that a lot of Aboriginal people we’re walking with the effects of colonization. I consider mountain biking to be a healing Journey for me in terms of decolonizing my body and entering a male dominated sport and showing the world that women can ride.”
In addition to the personal and community benefits, Melody describes how she feels there is a spiritual element to riding.
“We’re closer to mother earth and we’re riding in different territories of BC and we’re honouring that relationship we have with the land.”
Melody sees a role for mountain biking for youth in Aboriginal communities and through volunteering with the Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program she’s hoping to pass her love of the sport onto the next generation.
“Why not jump on a bike and go explore the endless trials that BC has to offer? I hope to inspire a lot of the young people and encourage them to take on mtn biking. I hope to definitely see a lot more youth out there.”
Tree Meter Productions and the AYMBP team were honoured to speak with Markle and for her to share her stories and experiences with us. These profiles will be shared with First Nation communities to raise awareness and interest in mountain biking and encourage youth to get outdoors, reconnect with nature and live healthy active lives.
Singing and drumming by George Taylor, Kwakwaka'wakw artist and performer from Vancouver Island.