It has been an absolute pleasure to have been part of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust team this past summer! I would like to thank Rebecca, Faye, Brooke, Nicole, Mathieu, and Laura for an extraordinary summer! Each one of them have such bright minds and huge personalities, I have learned so much from working by their side this summer and it was the best experience. They’re definitely my role models and one of the very few people I look up to in life.
This was by far the best summer job I’ve had! My very first project was to help Faye with the 2nd annual Living with Wild Life Symposium held in Ucluelet, it was very fascinating to see all the schools interact with one another, I thought it was such an excellent concept for the kids and I’m glad I was part of a really fun and active sunny day! After about 3 weeks in the CBT office I had an unbelievable opportunity and I was absolutely unquestionably thrilled to attend a one week conference called Co-building Sustainability and Reconciliation held in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. It being the first province (other than BC) I have ever been to and on top of that, meeting wonderful people from other biosphere reserves across Canada, learning about their biospheres was really something to appreciate. Being so young and getting involved in the work of biosphere reserves was an amazing experience, and I would like to thank Rebecca for an unforgettable trip!
Congratulations to chuutsqa Layla Rorick, this year’s recipient of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s (CBT) Biosphere Research Award. chuutsqa grew up in Hot Springs Cove and, as an advanced adult learner of the Hesquiaht language, has dedicated much of her life to Nuu-chah-nulth (NCN) language revitalization. chuutsqa is a doctoral student at the University of Victoria and her research “aims to collaborate with fluent NCN elders to identify compatible approaches for training a working-age generation of NCN educators,” and create a land-based NCN language revitalization program in Clayoquot Sound.
This is the third year that the CBT has offered the Biosphere Research Award, a single grant of $20,000. The purpose of the award is to support research within the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region (CSBR) that advances local understanding of conservation challenges within the marine and/or terrestrial ecosystems and helps us to prioritize conservation actions. To be eligible, research must address key species and ecosystems threats and/or address a degrading trend for species or ecosystems of ecological and/or cultural importance. The percentage of fluent NCN language speakers in the CSBR has decreased from 3.1% in 2012 to 1.7% in 2016 (Vital Signs, 2016). Furthermore, the majority of fluent speakers are elders, making the threat of NCN language and culture loss that much more imminent.
In discussing the intrinsic relationship between language and land/place, chuutsqa states, “NCN language and worldview has grown out of a coastal location, and contains environmental markers that tie our language and our daily actions to the land and seascape.” She further explains that, “NCN culture and the biodiversity of the region, cultivated from our ancient system of unique socio-cultural relations on this land and seascape over thousands of years, has been subjected to continuously erosive and targeted threats since the beginning of the relatively recent settler colonial era.” Therefore, NCN language revitalization is crucial to preserve “culturally based, intrinsically sustainable stewardship principles embedded in NCN language,” and “aligns with the intent of UNESCO biosphere [regions], which are meant to nurture learning places where conservation of biodiversity is embedded in social and economic development.”
The CBT received four high quality applications for this year’s Biosphere Research Award which were reviewed by a Technical Review Committee composed of local experts. According to Dr. Laura Loucks, CBT’s Research Coordinator, “the CBT’s volunteer Research Award Technical Review Committee was very impressed with the high caliber of chuutsqa’s application and the decision to bequeath her with the 2017 CBT Research award was unanimous. One of the outstanding aspects of chuutsqa’s research proposal was her ability to make the link between endangered ecosystems and endangered cultures, explaining how Nuu-chah-nulth language patterns are inherently connected to both. As one Committee member put it, ‘if language is the most endangered element on the west coast, this is the conservation action we need to take’.” The CBT Board of Directors approved the Committee’s recommendation for funding at their June meeting and are equally impressed with chuutsqa’s research proposal.
Photo by Melody Charlie
My summer work experience with Clayoquot Biosphere Trust has been truly rewarding and I am thankful for every opportunity. I have had the chance to work with incredible people and participate in stimulating multidisciplinary research and monitoring projects. I spent time working in the office at my standing desk, sitting at regional meetings with important stakeholders, navigating the ocean inlets and passages, walking through the rainforest, and kneeling on the intertidal zone helping scientists gather data to inform coastal restoration management plans. For a student in Environmental Geography, this is what we call living the dream!
Here is a list of a few ongoing projects that I had the chance to be a part of:
-Sydney Inlet Soundscape Project
-Clayoquot Salmon Roundtable
-Human-wildlife interactions meetings with Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
-Amphibian surveys with the Association of Wetland Stewards for Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds
–Sustainability in the Biosphere university field course taught by Dr. Laura Loucks, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s amazing Research Coordinator and adjunct professor at Royal Roads University
-Promoting the Clayoquot Sound Wild Salmon Fund
Summer Research Assistant with Clayoquot Biosphere Trust
We are thrilled to welcome 3 new staff members joining our team at the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust!
Nicole Gerbrandt is the new Education Coordinator for the West Coast N.E.S.T, and is leading the next phase of the Regional Education Tourism Initiative. She’s looking forward to developing and supporting existing learning opportunities in our communities and using the NEST to link visitors seeking immersive, place-based learning experiences with local organizations and communities. Nicole recently moved to Ucluelet from Bamfield, where she worked as the University Programs Coordinator at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre. She has a background in salmon ecology, a MSc. in Biology through Simon Fraser University, and many years of teaching experience.
Rochelle Tom is our Nuu-chah-nulth Office Assistant! This summer, she will be helping us with many administrative tasks and with special events outside of the office. After taking a gap year, Rochelle will be attending Vancouver Island University starting September 2017, as she will be upgrading some courses to pursue her interests in Psychology. Rochelle is very excited to be travelling to Baie-Comeau Quebec for a conference called Co-building Sustainability & Reconciliation, and is very keen to learn more about biosphere reserves.
Mathieu St-Laurent-Addison is our Summer Research Assistant. He is completing his Bachelor of Science with a major in Environmental Geography at Concordia University and will be working on a number of interesting projects this summer, including promoting the Clayoquot Sound Wild Salmon Fund, the LEO network monitoring program and the Sydney Inlet remote listening soundscape project.
If you see the new CBT staff in and around our communities be sure to say hi and welcome them!