Singletrack to Success, the program that helped First Nations youth build world-renowned mountain biking trails in Carcross, will soon be expanding to other First Nation communities.
Earlier this week Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski promised $60,000 a year over the next three years to expand the program.
In the last 10 years, more than 50 youth in Carcross have built 65 kilometres of trails on Montana Mountain as part of Singletrack to Success, also known as S2S.
The trails have garnered them national and international attention and accolades.
“Long before there were ultra marathons, or epic bike rides, or Gore-Tex in the Yukon, there were First Nations people, this territory’s original and most impressive trail builders and athletes,” said program co-founder Jane Koepke.
“The story of Yukon First Nations and trails isn’t unique to Carcross, It’s a Yukon-wide story with many, many threads. We’re so excited about working with youth in other First Nations and other communities to bring new trails and new stories to the forefront.”
Koepke wouldn’t say which communities could be getting their own program. Those details are still being worked out, she said.
Whichever youth are chosen will be involved in every step of building trails. That includes planning, creating a trail tread, shaping corners and building structures. “Everything until it’s ready to ride and the red velvet rope goes back,” she said.
Programs like Singletrack to Success “offer a wealth of benefits both to the youth who participate in it and also to their communities,” the premier said.
“The program provides youth with meaningful training and employment while spending time on the land within their traditional territory.”
Trail building is not ending in Carcross.
Beyond building trails, Koepke said some of the new money will go to looking at other, related, employment opportunities.
“As visitors start to come, all of a sudden there’s a variety of needs whether it’s shuttle transportation (or) guiding on the trails,” she said.
“We’re really interested in starting a pilot project, that will be a little mini project within S2S, that starts to look at those training/employment opportunities.”
Koepke envisions Carcross becoming a “centre of excellence” for this kind of work.
“Youth from the territory are going to be able to go to Carcross and learn from the youth there, ride bikes, connect with one another and we just think Carcross has so much to teach.”
Shane Wally helped build the Carcross trails from the beginning, working his way up from a labourer to a crew leader.
He says youth have a lot to gain while working on mountain bike trails.
“It’s like freedom out there, you know? It’s where your heart is. It’s pretty cool thinking about having different communities starting out building their own trails.”
Contact Ashley Joannou at email@example.com