From November 20-23, representatives of Canada’s 18 UNESCO biosphere reserves in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region on the east coast of Vancouver Island came together for a national gathering hosted by Kwalikum and Snaw-naw-as First Nations. The 2018 Fall Gathering of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA) had two key objectives: Building ethical space between CBRA’s board of directors and Indigenous Circle, and developing a collective and strategic vision for this important national UNESCO network. With the gathering so close to home, the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region was well represented with Ahousaht elder Arlene Paul, board members Ashley Hawker and Cassandra Silverio, and CBT staff Rebecca (who serves as CBRA Chair), Laura and Colin all in attendance.
In a country as large as Canada, biosphere reserves are geographically, biologically, and culturally diverse, but all work toward achieving similar goals and addressing common challenges. CBRA’s 2018 Fall Gathering was designed for board members, staff, and Indigenous hosts of Canadian biosphere reserves to share knowledge, hear individual stories of struggle and success, and build trust. Truth, reconciliation and co-leadership with Indigenous Peoples are essential for Canada’s biosphere reserves to thrive with integrity.
The entire gathering was held in circle––large and small––allowing all 45 guests to speak and listen to each other. Participants learned about local First Nations customs around ceremony, such as welcome prayers, songs, dances, and gift-giving practices, making conscious space for Indigenous and western traditions of knowledge sharing to co-exist. Working in ethical space, a collective vision was communicated––a vision that will guide CBRA in its work to address national and global issues by supporting sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and social justice.
Gord Johns, Member of Parliament, joined the gathering for one of the evenings and shared his sentiments:
Thanks to Snaw-naw-as First Nation for their warm welcome on Thursday during the CBRA Fall Gathering in their territory. We’re proud to have two biosphere reserves in Courtenay-Alberni and enjoy hosting the annual Biosphere Day on the Hill. Great comradery, food, dancing and singing. Congratulations both to the Nation and the CBRA for such a wonderful gathering and for such an important movement.
The CBT is grateful to have been a part of the gathering and participate in meaningful conversations about how CBRA (and the member Biosphere Organizations across the country) can grow in a direction driven by Indigenous perspectives and leadership.
CBRA’s new strategic plan will be launched in early 2019.
Eat West Coast is a hub for food security action in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve region on the west coast of Vancouver Island that brings together community partners to build a healthy food system where everyone has access to the foods they need to thrive. We connect schools, local governments, communities, not-for-profits, food providers, and others.
Based out of Tofino, EWC supports eight remote communities with a combined population of about 6,000. We have a young population and more than a third reside in First Nations communities. Food is expensive and difficult to access for many, with some communities boat access only. We have no local agriculture, loss of traditional marine food as a dependable food source, and one of the highest costs of living in BC.
A just and sustainable food system in our region is rooted in healthy communities, where everyone has access to nutritious, culturally acceptable food. This means that we have the skills and knowledge about the ways food is grown, harvested, preserved, processed and cooked and that traditional hunting, fishing, gathering, and conservation practices are respected and enabled. These are an important part of our west coast history, culture and health.
With the help of the Maple Leaf Centre for action on Food Security, EWC will develop a region-wide program to help support the increasing local interest and activity in revival of local food knowledge and food preservation techniques (storing, canning, smoking, pickling, drying, etc.) so that our families can learn more about each season’s abundance and access a variety of healthy traditional foods year-round and in times of need (both economically and in emergency situations). Some of our biggest barriers have been needed for capacity to support knowledge sharing, lack of modern food-safe training, and lack of access to appropriate facilities.
Our project will address these needs through a ‘train the trainer’ local capacity building approach. We will grow local leaders and champions and support them to implement workshops and education across communities. Part of the backbone of support will be sufficiently equipping community and school kitchens and creating a regional network to share knowledge and resources.
EWC is funded by our regional health authority, Island Health, under their Food Security Hubs Network and hosted by the Clayoqout Biosphere Trust, a local organization that stands on two pillars as both a biosphere reserve and a community foundation. As the only organization in Canada that encompasses both of these internationally recognized mandates, the CBT is able to see the opportunities and challenges through a unique lens and collaboration with the CBT and its partners will allow our work to have a sustainable impact.
The fourth year of Neighbourhood Small Grants on the west coast has been a huge success, with a record number of projects funded, more diversity of project ideas, and more communities involved than ever before! In partnership with the Vancouver Foundation and the Westcoast Community Resource Society, 30 projects were funded, up from 23 last year. Congrats to the program leaders and keep an eye out for the following events happening near you!
Family Fun Night (Halloween) Complete!
Halloween themed family gathering with snacks and pumpkin carving
Philomena Duncan and Janey Thomas
Ahousaht, October 2018
Pumpkins in the Mist Complete!
Halloween theme walk in the woods (Wild Pacific Trail)
Katherine Loiselle and Jenna Hopkins
Ucluelet, October 2018
Epic Halloween house on Bay St. for all of the Ucluelet community to come and enjoy
Mandy Oye and Tara Wood
Ucluelet, October 2018
Let the Ghoul Times Roll BBQ Pit Stop
Halloween BBQ on the street for Trick or Treaters and their parents
Sam Fyleris and Naomi Bruce
Tofino, October 2018
Health Oriented Medicinal Plants
Building a community greenhouse focused on health-related plants and traditional medicines
Ruth Charleson and Betty Lucas
Hesquiaht, November 2018
Providing for Community
Young men will go hunting and return to the community to share a feast with community members
Patrick Charleson III and Patrick Charleson Jr.
Hesquiaht, November 2018
Opitsaht Community Smokehouse
Salvaging and hand-milling wood to build and donate community smokehouse on Opitsaht reserve
Raymond Victor Brune and Sherann Nicole Findlay
Opitsaht, November 2018
Tluusma – Young Woman
Regalia creation workshop, focusing on engaging young women in culture and community
Darlene Dick and Ileisha George
Ahousaht, November 2018
Heshook Ish Tsawalk Women’s Group
Sharing, healing, learning meetings at the Hot Springs Cove health centre for local women
Betty Lucas and Ruth Charleson
Hesquiaht, November 2018
Workshop and teach basket weaving and cedar weaving to community members
Delores Bayne and Vince Ambrose
Hesquiaht, November 2018
Chama Pii – Balancing
Bring together the ladies of our community for storytelling and writing workshops focused on balance
Nora Martin and Sandra Williams
Tla-o-qui-aht, November 2018
Rollerskate Dance Workshops and Disco Skate Party
Rollerskate dance instruction followed by a roller disco with a DJ at Seaplane Recreation Hall
Lyvier Rivera and Rebecca Hurwitz
Ucluelet, November 2018
Tonquin Park Villa Community Compost
Building an animal-proof composting system for the 36 units at Tonquin Park Villa
Simon Allison and Warren Rudd
Tofino, November 2018
Lovers, Lunatics & Poets — stage soiree & table read
Bringing together theatre and culture lovers for a “table read” of Tofino’s new history play
Greg Blanchette and Eileen Floody
Tofino, November 2018
Toquaht ladies craft evenings
Evening get-togethers for ladies of all ages to get creative and crafty
Lisa Morgan and Anne Mack
Toquaht, November 2018
Jensen’s Bay School Bus Shelter Workbee Party
Building a much-needed rain shelter for the students of Jensen’s Bay
Tom Stere and Nick Killins
Tofino, November 2018
Language and Cedar Weaving Nights
Practice speaking Ahousaht language and learn to weave cedar in community
John Webster and Janet Webster
Ahousaht, November 2018
Self care in Opitsaht
Bring Opitsaht residents together for community activities focusing on health and happiness
Margaret Thomas and Amanda Tom
Tla-o-qui-aht, November 2018
Slow Down Sign Painting Party
Bringing neighbours together to paint signs to remind drivers to be safe and respectful
Amorita Adair and Tanya Berger-Richards
Tofino, November 2018
Christmas Dinner at Ty Histanis
Gathering community to share a positive feast together around the holidays
Annie George and Elizabeth George
Tla-o-qui-aht, December 2018
Community Gathering Dinner at Hot Springs Cove
Bringing together community for a healthy and happy gathering after a tough summer
Marilyn Lucas and Heather Campbell
Hesquiaht, December 2018
Light up the Dark
Festive lights and community wishing tree in Ocean Park subdivision
Lora McNeil and Sheila Orchiston
Tofino, December 2018
Traditional Foods Supper
Take youth hunting and harvesting to provide a feast and cultural support for the community
Dwayne Martin and Chris Seitcher
Tla-o-qui-aht, January 2019
Youth Food Security and Culture
Bring youth into traditional Ahousaht territory to hunt traditionally and distribute food in community
Charles Thomas and Francis Campbell
Ahousaht, January 2019
Tli Chu Immersion Potlatch
Feast for community where only Nuu-chah-nulth is spoken
Levi Martin and Tsimka Martin
Tla-o-qui-aht, February (new moon) 2019
Mom Surf Club
Open group of mom-surfers of mixed abilities who practice and support each other
Faye Missar and Ashley Williamson
Ucluelet, February-May 2019
BatBiTats at Habitat
Building bat houses to support at-risk bat populations in Clayoquot Sound
Trevor Jurgens and Kaytlyn Durocher
Ucluelet, March 2019
Ucluelet Broom Cleanup
Community removal of Scotch Broom, an invasive plant that quickly chokes out native species
Rebecca Hurwitz and Liisa Neilson
Ucluelet, March 2019
Installation of bee hives to pollinate local Food Forest with education on bee-keeping and food security
Leah Austin and Jennifer Smallwood
Tofino, April 2019
Beading and Loom work and around a glass bottle
Teaching youth how to do beading, loomwork, and crafting ideally at the Tofino Saturday Market
Elizabeth George and Annie George
Tla-o-qui-aht, May 2019
Just over one year ago, the CBT co-hosted a community gathering called “hišinqʷiił” at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre in Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ territory. It was the first time in a long time that representatives and members from all 7 communities in the Biosphere Region came together in the spirit of healing and reconciliation to talk about unique strengths, shared history, and cultural diversity. In order to commemorate the event, the CBT commissioned Robinson Cook, a skilled local carver, to create a piece that reflected the gathering. He unveiled the piece, called Hiłḥiyiis (“standing on the shoulders of”) at Carving on the Edge Festival earlier this month, explaining that while CBT is its steward and official owner, it belongs to all the communities in the region. Since moving it to the office after the festival, we have enjoyed having community members drop by to view the carving, and it̓s been interesting to hear individuals’ interpretations of it. In the spirit of the piece belonging to all the communities of the region, its first community appearance will be at the hišukniš c̓awaak histaqšiƛniš ʔiqh muut – Language Gathering at the Tin Wis resort on October 18-19.
Robinson explains the carving below:
The woman figure represents all of us as residents of the west coast communities; the wolf represents the Nuu-chah-nulth ancestors. We are all standing on the shoulders of the ancestors of these lands. The name comes from the Frank family in Ahouasht and I am using it here with permission from my brother and elder, David Frank Sr.
The Qʷayac̕iik (wolf), the ancestors, are the foundation for this carving, the base of the totem pole, holding all things up. The Qʷayac̕iik speaks to natural law- respect for nature, ourselves, and each other. The Qʷayac̕iik is holding a Salmon to remind us of the interconnectedness of all things and of our responsibilities to take care of the environment and all that nourishes us.
The human figure is portrayed as a woman to represent future leadership. She has a voice symbolized by the abalone shell on her throat. We need to listen to this voice, it has been silenced for too long. Her eyes, as painted by Deanna Lankin, represent all cultures. In one hand, she is holding a paddle to represent the tools we possess for moving ahead in life. Her other hand is holding the gunnels of the canoe to show leadership steadying the boat as we navigate the waters ahead.
Nuu-chah-nulth teachings use the Čapac (canoe) as an analogy for our lives. We choose what goes in and out of our canoes if we are living in balance. In the absence of balance, we lose control and choice. This Čapac is formed in the ƛaʔuukʷiatḥ (Tla-o-qui–aht) style of the Martin family. The roughed out prow and technical advice was provided by Joe Martin. All the figures are inside the Capac to represent the fact that as residents of the west coast we are all in the same boat.
Lastly, the paddle has 7 abalone shells for each community. There is an Eagle carved on the paddle to represent vision. The gifts of the Eagle spirit are to see from above, the big picture, but also to be brave and use that vision to look deep within ourselves to affect humility, personal growth and change.
I am not the inventor of all these concepts. I am practising what reconciliation means to me, in part, to be a good listener. We have to reconcile our right to belonging.
As summer moves into full swing, students in the region are enjoying a welcome break from their studies. For graduating high school students, this break involves preparing for a big transition into the next chapter of life, work, or education! Each year the CBT, with generous support from Genus Capital Management, funds two multi-year Education Awards: the Clayoquot Biosphere Education Award and the Central Region Nuu-chah-nulth Student Award. Investing in the “human capital” of our region and its communities is important; the CBT board is excited to continue improving the application and evaluation process to maximize accessibility and overall positive impact of the Education Award program.
The applications we received this year were impressive in both number and quality, and we are very pleased to share a little information about the two inspiring students who will be receiving financial support from the CBT to pursue their further education!
The Central Region Nuu-chah-nulth Student Award is awarded to Colton Van Der Minne. Colton is a Tla-o-qui-aht student who graduated as Valedictorian of his class from Nanaimo District Secondary School. He will be entering the University of British Columbia’s Science One program in the fall, and plans to continue on to medical school after earning his degree. He is passionate about humanitarian work, which guided him to medicine as it opens many doorways for volunteer work locally and abroad.
The Clayoquot Biosphere Education Award is awarded to Matteo Ludlow, a graduating student from Ucluelet Secondary School. Matteo is very involved in his community through sport (as both and athlete and a coach for youth), and led a project to replace rotten and unmarked headstones in a local Cemetery. Matteo wants to become a Physiotherapist, and has been accepted to the University of Victoria where he will be majoring in Kinesiology.
Check out our July Newsletter at this link:
Laura Loucks, CBT’s Research Director, has been busy this spring working on a number of environmental research and education projects within the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region, and presenting on CBT activities at two conferences on the east coast! Read more below:
The Clayoquot Sound Natural Area Conservation Plan:
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is working with local advisors to create a Clayoquot Sound Natural Area Conservation Plan. The geographic area of the proposed plan corresponds closely with the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Designation, extending seaward from HesquiahtPeninsula south and including provincial and federal protected areas with inland boundaries following the height of land along the watershed boundaries. Last month local team members Saya Masso, Barb Beasely, Josie Osborne and Laura Loucks, met with NCC staff Jocylyn Wood and Tamara Baldwin to review ecological targets, threats and indicators for Clayoquot Sound. Once the background knowledge has been researched, NCC staff will return to Tofino and present the proposed conservation plan to achieve the following vision:
“The Clayoquot Sound Natural Area is a functioning, resilient, coastal ecosystem that provides for thriving plant, animal, and human communities. In the spirit of collaboration, conservation groups work together with community groups and Indigenous, provincial and federal governments to ensure ecological and cultural values are protected, while supporting sustainable use of natural resources to achieve greater well-being of communities and nature in this landscape”. NCC Clayoquot Sound NACP planning notes, May 18, 2018.
Community, Conservation & Livelihood Conference, May 27-29, Halifax, Nova Scotia:
The innovative West Coast NEST (Nature. Education. Sustainability. Transformation) attracted numerous viewers at a recent conference co-hosted by the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The conference brought together indigenous, community, university, government, and NGO people from 52 countries to share important lessons on conservation livelihoods, build partnerships, and shape future linkages between community members, academics and policy makers. You can read more about the West Coast NEST and other west coast community conservation stories including the Clayoquot Sound Salmon Roundtable and the Nuu-chah-nulth Fishing Rights, on the CCRN website.
The conference also hosted a special session on Ecosystem Governance and Biosphere Reserves. CBT Research Director, Dr. Laura Loucks joined panel participants Dr. Liette Vasseur, President of Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and Dr. Esperanza Arnes, co-chair of the Biosphere Group for the IUCN Commission for Ecosystem Management, to discuss governing Biosphere Reserve designated areas. Several common challenges among Biosphere Reserve communities included: 1) the large scale of area to manage; 2) the need to build shared awareness of sustainability and what it means to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; 3) the importance of ongoing funding support; and 4) the relationship between Indigenous language revitalization and sustainable governance models. For more information, check-out the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management Biosphere Reserve working group website.
Community Conservation Research Network Meeting, May 30-31, Martin’s River, Nova Scotia:
Over 50 researchers from around the world have contributed to the Community Conservation Research Network since its inception in 2011. Last month the core group met for the last time to share their knowledge on collaborative approaches to sustainable community governance. Much of their research and writing over the last seven years has focused on community resilience, including the ability to cope with and adapt to change. CCRN member Dr. Fikret Berkes, and keynote lecturer, highlighted the importance of understanding community conservation as a commons problem. Moreover, the attributes that contribute to social-ecological interdependency are also essential factors for successful conservation practices and sustainable community livelihoods. Several CCRN west coast members participated in the meeting, including Dawn Foxcroft, from Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Fisheries, Tawney Lem, Executive Director of West Coast Aquatic, and Laura Loucks, from the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust. Findings from the CCRN team of researchers are highlighted in their recent book, Governing the Coastal Commons: Communities, Resilience and Transformation, edited by Derek Armitage, Anthony Charles, and Fikret Berkes. Detailed case studies in the book explore how coastal communities are adapting to environmental change, and governing the coastal commons, emphasizing a social-ecological systems perspective, and the role of resilience and transformation.
This week, Ahousaht resident Arlene Paul, executive director Rebecca Hurwitz, and board co-chairs Tammy Dorward and Cathy Thicke travelled to Ottawa alongside representatives from 18 biosphere reserves (BRs) to co-host the second annual Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association (CBRA) reception on Parliament Hill on June 5th, co-sponsored by our local MP, Gord Johns: Courtenay-Alberni Member of Parliament.
The non-partisan Reception on the Hill was an opportunity to celebrate and showcase how Canada’s BRs are creating vibrant, healthy, and sustainable communities across Canada by promoting biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and reconciliation at the local level.
“It means a lot to work with MPs from all parties and Canada’s 18 BRs to co-host the event,” said Rebecca. “BRs are key to implementing global UNESCO aspirations and commitments at the local level, but we can do more to raise awareness of our work at the political level.”
She noted that last year’s event was critical to leveraging funding for national CBRA projects, and that BRs are seeing the results of political and financial support in 41 constituencies across Canada.”
Among topics discussed, relationship-building and reconciliation was highlighted as integral to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. National Coordinator of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association Monica Shore noted that,
Canada’s 18 UNESCO biosphere reserves are leaders in implementing national projects at the local level in the spirit and practice of reconciliation. They catalyze community-based initiatives that embrace multiple worldviews to support biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Their collective work in these areas is unparalleled in Canada.
The reception was followed by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Annual General Meeting and Symposium on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
The delegation to Ottawa was an important opportunity to contribute to our national network and to share our work from the local level. Canada’s 18 BRs share the opportunities and challenges associated with sustainable development and conservation. We always appreciate the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, and to draw inspiration from the other members of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association. We’re excited for the year to come as we work together on national projects.
With the support from CBT, Surfrider Pacific Rim was able to carry out a successful campaign to support businesses to phase out single-use plastic and make their practices more ocean-friendly! The project is part of Surfrider’s larger goal to create a “plastic-free corridor” from Ucluelet to Tofino. Check out the list of businesses below who participated in the campaign!
Last Friday (May 11th), on behalf of the CBT, Executive Director Rebecca Hurwitz received one of five 2018 Partnership Award from the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association alongside Ucluelet Secondary School (USS) Principal Carol Sedgewick, who nominated CBT for the award.
The BCPVPA Partnership Award recognizes and honours the valuable support provided to principals, vice-principals, teachers and students by individuals and groups who have, over an extended period of time, shared their time, energy and expertise to support schools. The CBT extends thanks to to Carol for the nomination, recognizing that effective partnerships require effort from all collaborators; the students and staff at USS have been incredible partners helping the CBT to grow the vitality of the communities and ecosystem in our Biosphere Region.
The Award itself is a beautiful framed print by Haida Gwaii artist Bill Bedard. The Partnership Award print features an owl and eagle. Bill says the eagle travels between the physical world and spiritual world and signifies focus, strength, peace, leadership, and prestige. The Owl, he says, reflects the wisdom and the world of educators and their supporters because “the work does not end when the students go home, but requires many nights of hard work and reflection as we strive to prepare our students for a better tomorrow.”
The CBT is excited to continue engaging in and facilitating meaningful and effective partnerships in the Clayoquot Biosphere Region!
Read more about the BCPVPA Partnership Awards here.