Photos by Josh McGarel
One potential positive outcome of the Covid 19 Pandemic may be that, as a society, we have
learned we can slow down, re-evaluate and see new possibilities. Build Back Better has become
the mantra for envisioning a healthier, sustainable and resilient world.
Deep within the Chilcotin Plateau, 36km northeast of the small gold rush town of 100 Mile
house, and 123km southeast of the City of Williams Lake, the Tsq’escenemc people, the People
of the Broken Rock (Canim Lake First Nation), under the leadership of Kukpi7 (Chief) Helen
Henderson, has embarked on a program to utilize mountain bike trails to make that vision reality
for their people.
The Nation wanted to make a change, and the vision to create a commuter trail connecting the
community was born.
However, the community didn't want just any kind of trail. They wanted something unique,
which would encourage their youth, elders, everyone to get outdoors and engage in active
transportation and healthy living.
This was where Tish Diamond, the community youth coordinator and an avid rider, came in.
Partnering with First Journey Trails, a professional trail building company out of Williams Lake
and the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program, they worked together to create a plan for a
multi-purpose walking and mountain bike flow trail along the entire length of the community.
With support from the Job Creation Partnership Program, pro-builder and world-renowned free-
rider James Doerfling built the trail along with three Tsq'escenemc members who received
training in trail construction from trail specialist Justin Darbyshire, and local builder Jeremy
The results have been overwhelming. Despite the global Covid 19 pandemic, in just twenty-two
weeks, the crew managed to build a 3,196m commuter flow trail from one end of the community
to the other. Weaving through forests of pine, spruce and Douglas fir, the trail has something for
everyone: thrilling berms, table-top jumps, wooden skills features, technical climbs and descents.
Designed as a beginner to intermediate trail, it can provide a rush of adrenalin and excitement for
riders of all levels and safe for walking and running by a mom with a stroller or an elder on their
way to a health appointment. In addition to the commuter trail, the crew also built two downhill
trails, one intermediate and the other more advanced.
The trails have made a huge impact on the Nation and the surrounding communities. The Nation
has provided bikes, and the youth can ride epic single track to and from school. Elders and
families are out walking and reconnecting with nature, and people can move through the
community while staying off the busy highway.
This is what building back better looks like.