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Offensive trails to be officially renamed in Kelowna

Trail troubles

Photo: Carrie Karsgaard

Mountain biking trail names are often a bit… colourful but it nearly always adds to their character. I personally enjoy a good ride down Lovely Legs (ask a Surrey local how it got its name next time you’re down there). But what happens when the trail names hit a little too close to the bone?

Well, offensive trails are set to be renamed in the Upper Mission area of Kelowna, British Columbia, after they were decried by a jogger.

While out on a run, Carrie Karsgaard came across a sign for a trail named ‘Squaw Hollow’. Squaw is a pejorative slang term for an American Indian woman or wife.

Karsgaard said in a blog: “The closest thing I can liken it to is the n-word. It has some serious undertones with the regards to the sexualization of Indigenous women and violence towards Indigenous women. I was just surprised to see that on a local trail in a public space.” Other trail names in the network include TheRapist, Yo Mama and Cat’s Ass.

In fairness, the local riding community is in agreement with Karsgaard and has been hoping to change the names for a while – just not yet. At the moment the Mountian Bikers of the Central Okanagon (MBCO) is looking to legalise the trails and is worried changing the names might jeopardise that.

Jay Darby, MBCO president, told CBC News: “We definitely agreed from the start that these signs need to come down … [but] the key thing is, as it stands right now, we have no legal standing to maintain, adjust or alter the network in any way.”

Once the trails are legalised Darby has promised the signs will be removed. He also hopes the community can come together with the builders to name them appropriately.

Karsgaard said: “It’s good to hear that they want those to be changed. We don’t always acknowledge discriminatory attitudes towards Indigenous people and Indigenous women.”

So, how important are trail names? Should trails be named only by the builders? Or should we be a bit more careful what we’re riding on as mountain biking continues to grow?

If you want to have a look at Karsgaard’s original blog then do so here, it’s a good read whether you agree or not.

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