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“Working in a Good Way is central to everything we do. It means bringing our people together, listening to what everyone has to say, carefully considering how the actions we take may affect the next seven generation that come after us: our children, our grandchildren’s children,” says Tom Eustache, a member of the Simpcw First Nation in the North Thompson River Valley in the interior of British Columbia. Eustache, a good friend and fellow director with the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program, is talking about how his community makes decisions, not only about building epic singletrack trails, but everything in their community.
“If we proceed with an open heart and open mind, it is more likely we will come to the right decision for our people,” he says.
The Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program is an initiative that brings riders, trailbuilders, coaches and community leaders together to support Indigenous youth to get outdoors, reconnect with the land and live healthy, active lives. Tom and I have spent years traveling together throughout British Columbia working with mountain bike clubs and First Nations to build trails and relations based on trust and mutual respect. It has been a powerful journey learning what it means to be an ally to First Nations and to foster reconciliation and decolonization.
Recently, we participated in two webinars, one hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia and another by the Trail Society of British Columbia on the importance of trail decolonization. The purpose was to share our stories and the lessons we’ve experienced and provide practical advice for fostering reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and trail advocates and outdoor recreationists.
The first webinar, hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) was Working in a Good Way: Best practices and Lessons Learned for Settlers and Indigenous Peoples Collaborating as Allies and Accomplices in Recreation and Reconciliation. In 2019, the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program worked with the ORC to produce a document called Working in a Good Way. Throughout BC, across Canada and throughout North America, trail clubs and advocacy groups are working to build relationships with Indigenous Peoples and address the difficult realities of our colonial history and create trails and outdoor recreational opportunities that do not perpetuate the harms of colonialism.
Through the webinar, linked here and above, Tom and I share our stories and outline the tenants of Working in a Good Way providing examples for how people can come together to foster authentic reconciliation and build trails based on trust and mutual respect.
Patrick Lucas is an award-winning registered community planner with more than 15 years of experience. His current projects focus on rural community development, Indigenous community building & reconciliation; trails, recreation & tourism planning. He founded the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program and is respected for his commitment to reconciliation and ability to foster relationships between First Nations and non-Indigenous communities that are based on mutual trust and respect.