Documentary “Dirt Relations” to be screened at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology on April 4.

Doors will be open at 6 p.m. and the film will be screened at 7 p.m.

Directed by Matt Clark, the film tells the story of Tom Eustache, a Secwepemc man and member of the Simpcw First Nation; Patrick Lucas, an eighth generation Canadian from Courtney, B.C.; and Thomas Schoen, a first generation German immigrant; and how their friendship formed through the Indigenous Youth Mountain Bike Program (IYMBP).

“The film is about a friendship of three men with very diverse backgrounds, it’s about starting a nonprofit aimed at reconciliation,” said Schoen. “But this particular film really is about the bond that three guys with very diverse backgrounds can form when they come together to reach a common goal.”

Schoen met Lucas in the Xatsull First Nation. Schoen was doing a presentation on mountain bike trails and Lucas was working with the Xatsull First Nation as a community planner. “Patrick had this idea of starting an organization that later developed into the IYMBP,” said Schoen. “As soon as we started talking and he mentioned the idea of creating this nonprofit, I instantly knew he was onto something there.”

Lucas and Schoen then became co-founders of the IYMBP where they then went on to work with the Simpcw First Nation where they met Eustache, the public works maintenance manager for the Simpcw First Nation. Eustache went on to become a director for the IYMBP.

The IYMBP has assisted over 38 First Nations communities develop mountain bike trails across B.C.

Schoen believes trail building and mountain biking can tear down barriers to create a more inclusive and harmonious society. “If we’re building a trail, shoulder to shoulder, Indigenous, non-Indigenous people, at the end of the day, after seven, eight hours of hard manual labour, digging in the dirt with a pick and a shovel, you don’t think about the nationality or ethnicity of the person that stands besides you, you’re just sharing the pain of the weather, the rain, the mosquitoes. So it really brings you together as humans, as individuals,” said Schoen.

Schoen also believes that much of Canada’s conflict and reconciliation can be tied to recreation. “It’s quite interesting if we look at the relative recent history, the last 30-40 years, most of the major conflicts between settler Canadians and Indigenous population can be traced back to recreation,” said Schoen, citing the Oka Crisis over a golf course, Sun Peaks standoff over a ski hill, and Gustafsen Lake standoff over fishing access.

Schoen highlights the importance of coming together for a common goal. “We grew up in completely different environments and different financial backgrounds… and yet we formed this strong bond and friendship that’s been lasting years and year and years and that is because we have common goals,” said Schoen. “In our case, it’s getting kids on mountain bikes, building more trails, but also fostering community and reconciliation.”