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Bella Bella to build path of opportunity, learning, unity

A project to improve a multi-use pathway will take place this summer in Heiltsuk territory

Trail builders spent time in Bella Bella recently to begin work for a trail-building project.

Tom Schoen and Patrick Lucas of First Journey Trails were facilitating planning meetings, conducting field surveys and laying the groundwork for a trail building project Schoen said will be transformative.

Schoen said their return to Bella Bella felt like a homecoming to head back to the heart of B.C.’s coast and the Great Bear Rainforest.

He and Lucas had worked with the small coastal community to help with trail development, beginning with upgrades to a multi-purpose trail. The trail was built under a labour market project some years ago. The upgrades to bridges and boardwalks are aimed at making the trail more accessible for elders and families. With few trails on the island, the improvements could help to support a more active community.

The project will focus on enhancing an existing trail which encircles a local lake, Martin’s Lake, which Schoen said is “a natural gemstone.”

He said the community of Bella Bella, with a population of just over 1,000, “embodies a rich tapestry of culture, tradition, and a profound connection to the land.”

Schoen described the landscape of the community as rugged and breathtaking, and he said this trail-building project will provide more than a trail.

“It’s about laying down paths of opportunity, learning and unity,” he said, noting he believes the project is a “testament to the power of collaboration, respect, and shared vision.”

The two-week project will be done in partnership between the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program and First Journey Trails. Over two weeks this summer, Schoen and Lucas will work with a group of local trail builders.

He said he hopes the project will help forge stronger connections between youth and their heritage as well as between all community members and the land they call home.

“There’s an air of excitement,” said Schoen about the community project.

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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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