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Cariboo biker builds trails to reconciliation in VIMFF film

Tomas Schoen is one of three featured in documentary on the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program

The Cariboo’s Thomas Schoen is featured in an official selection of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) film.

Schoen is one of three men profiled in the film Dirt Relations: The story of the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program (IYMBP) which will have its world premiere at this year’s VIMFF.

The film has been recognized as an “official selection” of the film fest, which gives it special recognition by the jury or selection committee to be showcased. It signifies the film stands out to the jury for quality, creativity or relevance.

Schoen is the CEO of First Journey Trail Ltd. as well as a co-founder of the BC IYMBP.

The IYMBP has trained hundreds of youth in trail building and mountain biking, and led to the creation of over 100 km of trails across Western Canada in Indigenous communities, including in the Cariboo and Chilcotin.

The organization has worked with ?Esdilagh (previously Alexandria Band), Williams Lake First Nation, Xat’sull (previously Soda Creek Band), Stswecem’c Xget’tem (previously Dog Creek and Canoe Creek Bands), and Canim Lake.

The film is a documentary story of how Schoen, his co-founder of IYMBP Patrick Lucas, and Tom Eustache of the Simpcw First Nation and a director on the IYMBP board, all came together. Schoen said after working with Anthill Films on the Return To Earth series which featured the work of the IYMBP, it sparked an idea for their organization to really show why they came together in the first place.

So they decided to start their own film project to help tell this story.

“We went really deep and frankly, that’s not something we expected when we started this journey,” said Schoen.

Lucas is an eighth generation Canadian, Schoen is a first generation immigrant from Germany, and Eustache is a Secwépemc man and a member of the Simpcw First Nation.

Each of the three men gives their own perspective on how they came to forge a bond through their collective passion for mountain biking and trail building and the power of both to build bridges between cultures, foster resilience, and reclaim cultural identity.

“Trail building is more than a sport; it’s a means of healing and understanding,” said Thomas Schoen. “By working together on these trails, we’re not just shaping the land – we’re shaping a future of mutual respect and acknowledgment.”

It is a timely film, coming when reconciliation and decolonizing is becoming a focus across governments, communities and the world.

Each of the three men tells his own personal journey, showing the path to where they are all today, and each one shows courage in sharing some of his own perspective. The film asks viewers to examine their own role in de-colonizing outdoor recreation.

Dirt Relations: The Story of the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program film will premiere at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival in Vancouver on Feb. (Image submitted)

The film was directed by Matt Clark, Stirl and Rae Media Haus, and co-written by Patrick Lucas with contributions by Thomas Schoen. The film production was supported by 7Mesh Apparel, Norco Bicycles, Mountain Biking BC, and Fox Trail Trust.

Dirt Relations is set to premiere in Vancouver at the VIMFF on February 24, 2024. The film will also be available online from February 23 to March 10.

READ MORE: Trail opening spiritually and economically important moment for southern Cariboo First Nation

READ MORE: First-ever Allies Mountain Bike Festival back on for Simpcw near Barriere

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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