The first time I met Sarah Meunier was two years ago and she immediately impressed me with her positivity and enthusiasm. Then she told me a hilarious story about a bikini she made from two problem martens at Chatter Creek Lodge, and I wanted her to be my best friend forever.
The first time photographer and filmmaker Ryan Flett met Sarah was in 2014 at a ski waxing party in Rossland. He too was impressed by her vitality. Sarah’s the type of person who’s zest for life is infectious and he had the idea that one day he’d showcase her amazing personality.
Fast forward to 2018 when Ryan had the opportunity to interview Sarah on camera. She’s the crew leader for the Castlegar Parks and Trails Society and has been instrumental in the growth of the local trail system, from the incredible Merry Creek mountain bike area to The Great Trail (aka the Trans-Canada Trail), which runs parallel to the Kootenay River from Castlegar.
Ryan created a short film from those interviews with Sarah and released it on YouTube this week. It details Sarah’s upbringing on a farm in Quebec where she was taught early to haul wheelbarrows and dig dirt — skills that definitely come in handy when trail building. Eventually Sarah moved west and lived in different ski towns before arriving in Castlegar to take the Recreation, Fish and Wildlife program at Selkirk College. She loved the city so much, she decided to stay and has been volunteering and working with the Trails Society since. Between her endless energy and the design skills of her partner Dave Sutton, Castlegar trails are getting noticed by outdoor enthusiasts from around the country.
We caught up with Ryan (photographed below) to chat more about his new film project and why he was so inspired to feature Sarah. What follows is an abbreviated transcription of that conversation.
Hey Ryan. Thanks for taking the time to chat. What made you decide to do a short film about Sarah?
Sarah is one of the kindest, sweetest people I know but she’s also a bad-ass mountain biker. She’s not in the limelight though. A lot of people know Dave Sutton well because he’s the designer for a lot of the trails in Castlegar, but Sarah is at the centre of it all making sure grant application forms are filled out and money is coming in to fund all these developments.
How long did it take to create the film?
Overall the shooting took about six hours. I went out with the trail crew and filmed them at work. Then I interviewed Sarah. And then we all went biking. After that it took a few hours to edit.
Were there any challenging moments?
It was tough not being too perfect with the editing. Because I know Sarah, I wanted the film to be polished but after a while you have to say cut and get it out there.
What was one of your favourite moments?
I loved watching Sarah interpret lines through the forest. She takes everything into consideration: flow, accessibility, design. She was constantly excited about the possibility of placing new trail. Plus, these types of projects and stories are the most fulfilling for me. Creating something collaboratively and showcasing someone I truly believe is an amazing person, it feeds the soul.