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Dirt Relations shows us a better way at Williams Lake screening

A mountain biking film sharing a powerful message of coming together for a better future

A Williams Lake audience had a chance to see reconciliation in action on April 11, at the Williams Lake premiere of a documentary film.

Dirt Relations: The story of the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program was an official selection of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.

Mountain bike enthusiasts, film enthusiasts and other community members filled the Central Cariboo Arts & Culture Centre was to capacity as the film showed for the first time in the community, where Thomas Schoen, one of the men featured in the film, is based. Schoen is one of the founders of the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program, along with Patrick Lucas.

As Canada continues to struggle with the legacy of both residential schools and colonialism, the film could not be more timely.

The film itself does not go into the darkest corners of the Canadian psyche, instead, the dirt it digs up along the way is mostly positive and inspiring, showing the perspectives of three men, all whose upbringing raised them hearing a different story. It brings viewers along on a journey, which helps share diverse perspectives on why each man is where he is and does what he does.

A testament to the power of storytelling, viewers come along, as Schoen speaks of being from Germany, where his generation grew up conflicted about the role of their parents and grandparents’ in the Holocaust during the Second World War.

As Schoen became increasingly more political, not far away, Lucas, a Canadian growing up on an air force base in Germany, began to realize the story he had been told throughout his childhood, of Canadian soldiers being welcomed liberators, may also not be all there is to the story either.

German citizens and those of other European nations, began to push back against the increasing arms race taking place between the west and the Communist Bloc in the east during the Cold War. As Schoen protested for peace, his fascination with Indigenous North American culture drew him towards Canada.

After being so close to one another in Germany, but never having met, the two eventually met at Xatsull (Soda Creek), north of Williams Lake.

Each with a passion for mountain biking along with a shared desire to help build relationships with Indigenous communities, the two grew the idea of the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program (IYMBP).

The organization works with communities to develop and design trails and mountain biking programs and facilities.

While working with Simpcw First Nation on a trail network at Chu Chua, near Barrière, they met Tom Eustache, of Simpcw First Nation, the third man featured in the film.

Eustache then reveals his journey in the story, on how mountain biking helped him reconnect to the land and how returning and working with and for the community helped him come to terms with his own identity as an Indigenous man.

The film and the story it tells is inspiring and uplifting, showing us all how working together raises us all up, and sharing stories can be a true path to reconciliation.

The questions after the film from the audience led to a positive conversation as well, with all three men at the screening in Williams Lake.

The film has screened in Vancouver, Prince George, Chu Chua, Kamloops, Merrit and Tla’amin First Nation and will continue to tour, with showings scheduled for Whistler, Turkey Point, Ontario, Pentiction, and Cumberland. Go to to find out more.

READ MORE: Cariboo biker builds trails to reconciliation in VIMFF film

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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