September 30th marked Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, a newly created statutory holiday to commemorate victims and survivors of Indigenous residential schools. These were state run Christian boarding schools that children were forced to attend in an effort to assimilate them into Canadian culture and leave their own Indigenous cultures – and families – behind.
More than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were forced to attend around 140 schools that operated across the country from 1831, with the last school closing in 1996. This is shockingly recent history. Earlier this year 751 unmarked graves were found at one school site, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has documented more approximately 4,200 children who died at residential schools.
What does this have to do with mountain biking? Well, some of your favourite bucket list locations in Canada, like Kamloops (Tk’emlúps) and Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh), are part of this story. With mountain biking being a great way to build communities and personal confidence, as well as an important part of the local economies, there are efforts being made to include Indigenous communities in mountain biking and the benefits it can bring. Whether we’re local riders or visitors passing through, understanding the history of the area and its people can help us be better allies.
This video from 7MESH looks at the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program that they’ve been supporting, and what it means to be an ally in the process of truth and reconciliation:
A 7mesh-produced video with our partners at the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program (IYMBP) to commemorate Canada’s first National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, and raise awareness of where we ride, and the responsibility we have to take the path of understanding and action.