Innovation Island Free Workshops!

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February Newsletter: Introducing the West Coast N.E.S.T.

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January Newsletter: Call for Projects, Biosphere Research Award, Community Fund for Canada’s 150th

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2017 Call for Projects, Biosphere Research Award and Community Fund for Canada’s 150th Grants

2017 Call for Projects 


Application open: January 9th, 2017
Application due date: February 20, 2017, 4 pm PST
Award Announcements: April 2017

Learn more about these grant opportunities
Get the guidelines and application forms

Read the General Funding Guidelines
See past recipients of the Call for Projects

The Community Fund for Canada’s 150th Grants


Application open: January 9th, 2017
Application due date: February 20, 2017, 4 pm PST
Award Announcements: April 2017

Learn more about these grant opportunities
Get the guidelines and application forms

Read the General Funding Guidelines
See past recipients of the Call for Projects

Need help?
Contact the CBT at 250-725-2219 or

The CBT is hosting a series of grant writing workshops to in February to help you bring your project ideas to life. Stayed tuned for dates and locations!

The Biosphere Research Award


Application open: January 9th, 2017
Application due date: April 17, 2017, 4 pm PST
Award Announcements: mid-May 2017

Learn more about the Biosphere Research Award
Get the guidelines and application forms

Biosphere Blog- Winter


Tales from the Sydney Inlet Soundscape Project: Warm Reminders of the July Dawn Chorus

Laura Loucks, CBT Research Coordinator


Photo by Adrian Dorst, Sydney River

Our west coast winter is settling upon us. It’s December 15th and these clear sunny days of arctic air flows are significantly cooler than last year’s mild December temperatures and contiguous weeks of heavy rains. Given what we now know about the sounds of Sydney Inlet, I’m curious if this winter’s keynotes will differ from last year’s acoustic discoveries.  As we’re learning from the Sydney Inlet “soundscape” project, the sound of rain is a predominant part of the acoustic ecology in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve region. The term “soundscape”, first coined by R. Murray Schafer, refers to any acoustic field of study with specific relevance for how we ‘earwitness’ our natural landscapes. In Schafer’s words, the “keynote sounds of a landscape are those created by its geography and climate: water, wind, forests, plains, birds, insects and animals”[1].

Thanks to our team of volunteer sound enthusiasts, over the last year we’ve collected recordings from the Sydney river estuary for at least three days out of every month. The purpose of our project is to learn more about the seasonal changes in the sound patterns of a remote watershed, whose geography is characterized by old growth western hemlock and cedar forests. While we’re still analyzing our first year of data, we’ve made several unexpected discoveries.  For example, the long stretches of silence during quiet summer evenings are occasionally disrupted by the sound of marine mammal blows, often just after midnight. They could also be the sounds of porpoises, yet the rhythm of the inspiration and expiration suggests a larger marine mammal is making its way up the Sydney Inlet.

We’ve also learned from our reflective listening workshops that disrupted sound patterns are telling us something, even if we don’t know exactly what.  For example, we’ve discovered the pacific wren dominates the dawn chorus for much of the summer.  However, random signals from a single raven or crow call will often halt the wren’s song abruptly. What are these messages being exchanged among bird species co-inhabiting the Sydney river estuary? What can we learn from active listening to the sounds of places over time? Take a few moments this winter to listen to a few audio files from the Sydney estuary summer sound recordings. Notice the differences in the keynotes, the predominant sounds and signals that are comparatively different from year to year. Both recordings are taken during the first week in July during the dawn chorus, at approximately five o’clock in the morning

Sydney Inlet Writer-in-Residence: Elin Kelsey

Defining the soundscape of Sydney Inlet is a continuous field of unfolding possibilities, in which we’re delighted to be engaged and we invite others to share the listening experience with us.  This summer, my friend and colleague, Dr. Elin Kelsey, was our first Writer-in-Residence at Sydney Inlet. Elin is an environmental educator, researcher and award winning author of more than a dozen environment and science-based books for children and adults. Her most recent picture book, You Are Stardust, received the 2013 Canadian Library Association Award and was also named Best Children’s Book of 2012. Over the last few years, Elin has been working with a coalition of more than 40 aquariums and visitor centres on a multi-year empowerment evaluation of communicating climate change and the oceans. Please enjoy Elin’s reflections on her listening experience last summer while staying in the Sydney Inlet. ~

Sydney Soundscape July 7, 2015


Sydney Soundscape July 9, 2016


Where trees talk: A writer’s journey to Sydney Inlet

Elin Kelsey

(Clayoquot Biosphere Trust Writer-in-Residence, August 2016)

“Let’s just say I wouldn’t be cooking any bacon,” Laura says, in answer to my plea for advice. Laura Loucks is the Research Coordinator of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and when the idea of me serving as a writer in residence in the Sydney Inlet research cabin in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve first came up “Yes!” was the only thing on my mind.  I had been yearning for wilderness; hungry for a sense of timelessness in the midst of nature. But as the date drew nearer, it was the details I needed help with. “How much water should I bring?” “Who could pick up my kids from camp if the water taxi scheduled to collect me failed to show up?” “Did I need to bring bear spray?” It was that final question that triggered the bacon comment.  Funny how it seems to be animals, and more specifically big animals, that come to mind when the dream of spending time “away” in the forest transforms into the place you are going a week from Thursday.

And then Thursday arrives and I am splayed on a slippery tumble of algae covered beach rocks trying to haul in the aluminum skiff that has ferried my husband Andy and me two hours from Tofino.  Annie, the skipper of the water taxi, leans over the bow and effortlessly passes me two 40 lb water jugs. They land with a thunk by my feet.  A giant cooler, sleeping bags, library books, more water and a double kayak fly one-by-one from her strong arms.  “One of our staff will pick you up in a week,” she calls as she reverses the motor and pulls away. “I have to take my daughter to a birthday party.”

Andy and I glance at the pile of belongings and up toward a pathway of log cut steps. Even here at the landing site, it is difficult to see the cabin. It sits high above the winter storm tide line behind a screen of tall cedars; its plywood frame disappearing into the thick forest that surrounds it. We bend down to pick up the heaviest loads first but I can not contain my excitement. I twirl around to take in the view. Thick, impenetrable forest blankets the steep slopes of this coastal fjord, draping everything from the tops of the hills to the waters edge in myriad colours of green. We are alone in a pristine temperate rainforest.

It is only after we enter the cabin, and begin making ourselves at home that I realize the word “bedding” on the packing list meant more than a sleeping bag. Yet it is not the bruises on my hips from sleeping on a sheet of plywood for which I am unprepared. It is the stillness. If stillness was a cocoa bean, Sydney Inlet would be a Death-by-Chocolate feast.

Two sleeps pass before my ears stop ringing. Two sleeps before the car alarms and text alerts and other noisy reminders of everyday life I brought along with me in my head subside. I discover by surprise one afternoon that I am no longer straining to hear the snap of a bear’s footfall as I make my way to the outdoor privy.  The swoosh of the incoming tide reminds me to move the kayak to higher ground.  The call of an eagle, a tiny speck far off in the estuary, funnels flute-like down this long, narrow fjord. 

Sydney Inlet is a listening-lovers paradise. Without clocks to determine our days, Andy and I fall into a blissful existence of reading, writing and exploring by kayak. We paddle to the mouth of the Sydney river and watch our own footprints merge with the bear, otter and bird tracks that crisscross the estuary. We crane our necks to wish on falling stars during the height of the Perseid meteor shower. We thrill to the barely audible “pfff” of a harbor porpoise rising to exhale as she nurses her calf on a late summer evening.

As the days pass, the stillness of Sydney Inlet gives way to a form of listening that extends beyond my ears. It feels all encompassing, like a sense of contentment. When I nestle into a sunlit patch of moss at the knee of a cedar I do not feel like a woman sitting beneath a tree. For who could even fathom where a single tree starts and ends in this tangled, flourishing explosion of huckleberry and ferns and searching roots and fallen trunks?  I am enveloped, entwined, made somehow more whole by the complexity and beauty of these green lives.

Aristotle, I find myself thinking, must surely have got it wrong. If only he could have experienced a coastal rainforest he might never have portrayed plants as passive, inactive beings with no purpose of their own.  What would he make of the sensation of being dwarfed by the quiet force of towering, thousand year old, living beings?

My friend Enid Elliot is one of the founders of the Nature Kindergarten movement in Canada. Not so long ago she told me about a girl who as a young child was able to talk to trees. As the girl grew older she realized that this was something she couldn’t tell most people. “I wonder if we have lost ways of knowing we might once have had when we were children,” Enid said.

I wish I could introduce that girl to Suzanne Simard. “Trees talk,” she told me when we met by skype a few years ago. Suzanne is a tenured professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences at the University of British Columbia. She described how trees converse in the language of nitrogen, carbon, phosphorous and water, and through defense signals and hormones. “A forest is much more than what you see,” she explained. “Underground there is a world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate. Through back and forth conversations they increase the resilience of the whole community.”

Trees, according to Suzanne, are active agents of their lives, purposefully sharing resources between not only their own species but with other species of trees and plants. It’s easy to embrace this characterization in Sydney Inlet, in the midst of this vibrant, intact, forest. I find myself starring whole paragraphs in the books I brought with me to read, Brilliant Green:  The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence; and, Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany. Plants, according to the scientific evidence that spills across their pages, are not passive beings – mute, insensitive, inactive. They communicate. They act with purpose. They are intelligent. As Stefano Mancuso, director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology in Florence, and the co-author of Brilliant Green puts it: “Intelligence is the ability to solve problems and plants are amazingly good at solving their problems.”

I close my eyes and will myself to hear this “tree talk.” I wonder if it might be perceived not as some form of audible sound, but in the feeling of stillness that pervades the forest. Is it possible to listen for things that can’t be heard? I am reminded of a conversation I had with Christopher Clark, director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, about the capacity of blue whales to listen.  Blue whales travel the world in search of super dense assemblages of krill. But they don’t just wander. They work a patch and then take off at fast speeds straight toward another that might be 20 miles away. But Chris doesn’t think they are listening for the sounds the krill make. He thinks they may be listening for the ocean processes, such as ocean storms and upwelling events, that result in insanely think congregations of krill.

Listening has long been a method used by scientists to better understand the hidden underwater world. In July 2015, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust launched the Sydney Inlet Soundscape project as a means to inventory the sounds of not only the marine animals of Sydney Inlet, but the terrestrial species as well. They developed a baseline reference of species diversity by recording monthly sound samples, each spanning a 24 hour time period.

In the first two months of recording, they identified the timing of the daily summer nesting patterns of marbled murrelet and the dawn and dusk choruses of shore and song birds. Changes in climate are predicted to impact the seasonal timing of bird migrations and salmon spawning and thus, influence multiple predator-prey relationships.  The Soundscape Project will allow researchers to identify and track changes in the diversity of species through alterations in their sound patterns over time, alerting them particularly to potential impacts on species of concern such as the great blue heron, the Western screech-owl and the marbled murrelet.

The day Andy and I return from Sydney Inlet, we stop by the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust offices to thank Laura. She has just finished teaching an intensive field course based in Ucluelet for graduate students in the Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication Program at Royal Roads University. She tells us how she invited whale researcher Jim Darling, who is leading the Soundscape project, to share samples of the edited recordings, and how she felt, as an instructor, a little uncomfortable with the long silences that existed between the wild rattling call of belted kingfishers or the deep throaty kraa calls of ravens. Still awe-struck from our experiences among the Sitka spruce, Western red-cedars, Western Hemlock and Douglas fir, I unintentionally correct her. “Those are not silences,” I say. “Those are the voices of the trees.”


[1] Schafer, R. Murray. 1994. The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books.

December Newsletter

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The Art of Hosting

Art of Hosting
January 24-26, 2017 in Tofino



The times we are living in call for more effective meetings, better engagement processes, participatory leadership and the ability to craft strategy from collective wisdom. The Art of Hosting is an engaged learning experience for leaders, change makers, educators, facilitators and others to come together to develop new skills in hosting meaningful conversations.

In this three-day workshop participants will learn:
• How to invite and convene meaningful conversations

• New skills to further engage community

• Facilitation strategies

• How to collaborate to address complex community issues

• Personal practices that support strong community leadership

And you will have the opportunity to engage your burning questions and bring your current work challenges forward!


Your hosting team has decades of experience teaching and utilizing participatory leadership practices in almost every conceivable setting, from non-profits and social justice movements, faith communities, Indigenous communities and social institutions, education, the corporate sector and government. They are experienced facilitators, coaches and leaders in their own right, and are stewards of the global Art of Hosting community.

 Learn more about Chris Corrigan, Caitlin Frost, Pawa Haiyupus, and Kelly Foxcroft


Tuesday, January 24- Thursday, January 26, 2017Tin Wis Resort, Tofino


Full tuition is $1100 (business rate) and $925 (non-profit rate). Thanks to sponsorship from the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and Vancouver Foundation, subsidized rates are available for local participants who reside or work in the region and visiting BC Community Foundation partners. If you are eligible for a subsidized rate ($300 or $500) please pay what you can. High school student tuition is $100.
Tuition includes snacks, lunch and a group dinner on Wednesday evening.
Register here! 

November Newsletter

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Community Fund for Canada’s 150th Grant Announcement!


Community Fund for Canada’s 150th Grant Announcement!


With Canada’s sesquicentennial coming up in 2017, we asked you to imagine a better future for your community and country by creating projects that promote inclusion, belonging, well-being, healing and reconciliation. We were amazed by the response and are pleased to announce that eight projects will be funded in our region, totalling $35, 225 in community investment!

Community Signage Project 
Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government

The Yuułuʔitʔatḥ Government (YG) has resolved to revitalize their language that is at 1.3% fluency and 5% semi-fluency. This project will bring the YG 2025 vision to be speaking the language again with confidence and pride by 2020. The Community Services Department under the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Language Program would like to initiate a language literacy/historical project that includes:

  • place-name/signage within the community of Hitacu and traditional lands.  
  • Outdoor education with tours for youth and elders.
  • Community historical sessions
  • A community Signage place-names map and four street signs with students coordinating photos for a planned  power-point.   

Nuu-chah-nulth exhibits for the Tofino-Clayoquot Heritage Museum
Tofino-Clayoquot Heritage Society

The TCHS is developing a museum to highlight the long history of the Clayoquot Sound region on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Although only 40% completed, the museum was opened to the public on August 17, 2016, and, since then, has received more than 450 visitors. The Nuu-chah-nulth people, the first inhabitants of Clayoquot Sound, have had a long and rich history and culture, and illustrating this is the next project for the museum. We intend to engage some of the local Tla-o-qui-aht, a branch of the Nuu-chah-nulth, in this project so that the exhibit will reflect the oral history of the people. The exhibit will have text in both Tla-o-qui-aht and English, and it will include audio-visual displays featuring Tla-o-qui-aht speakers. When completed, the museum will be a resource for both locals and visitors.

USS Quebec Trip
Ucluelet Secondary School

The USS Québec Trip is an educational trip that focuses on immersing the USS French students in the French language, history, culture and architecture of Montréal and Québec City, a UNESCO site of Canada. This year 10 students from USS, grade 11 and 12, will be participating in this biannual trip. Students are from Tofino, Hitacu and Ucluelet communities.  Students have made a major effort to speak French, and have been able to use it while working in public places, with tourists on the weekends and during the summer. Many of them are employed by government and 5 of 8 tourism businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet where French is required and helpful. The students take pride in speaking French with confidence and in having the chance to discover parts of Quebec by participating in this trip. This trip helps them improve their French and their understanding of how our country has developed over the last 150 years.

Virtual Museum Project
Carving on the Edge Festival Society

The project goal is to gather images of Nuu-chah-nulth artifacts that are now housed in many museums, images may number many hundreds, and to expose them to the residents to gather stories and information on the cultural purposes of the pieces. In the spirit of artistic exploration, an adjoining printing workshop will be offered for youth and others to bring their responses and inspirations into an artistic medium. 

Folklore Festival
District of Ucluelet

The Folklore Festival is aimed at strengthening our community by building an inclusive society which values differences and fosters a sense of belonging. It is an opportunity for our communities to promote intercultural understanding, pride and respect by its citizens sharing cultural traditions by means of storytelling, food, dance, dress, art and/or music. Our goal is to build a deeper understanding about people, places and events that shape our community and country. Residents of Ucluelet and the surrounding areas will be encouraged to research, document, interpret and present their living traditional arts and expressions of everyday life of their folk and ethnic communities. Children and youth will be inspired to learn and become globally aware of different cultural groups.

Heartwood Nuu-chah-nulth and French programs
Heartwood Learning Community Tofino

Our goal for this project is to bring French and Nuu-chah-nulth language and cultural education to the students in the Heartwood learning community. The Heartwood parent’s strive to enable a holistic education that inspires a deeper understanding of other languages and cultures within Canada. French from a National perspective and Nuu-chah-nulth when considering First Nation cultures within the Clayoquot Biosphere Region. We would like to implement a French immersion program that incorporates art, music and conversation for the children in two small groups delineated by age. In the Clayoquot Biosphere Region our children are privileged to live amidst strong, diverse, politically-active and culturally-rich First Nations, however, the exchange of language, history and culture either does not occur or is crafted and delivered within a Canadian education system. We would like to enhance the Nuu-chah-nulth education further by bringing in community members to teach cedar weaving, dancing and drumming to the Heartwood kids and any Tla-o-qui-aht children interested in participating. Raising children that are educated, aware and sensitive to other cultures will benefit our communities within the Clayoquot Biosphere Region and contribute to a stronger generation of Canadians that can approach the future with empathy for others.

West Coast Invasive Species Initiative 
Central Westcoast Forest Society

This initiative is a partnership with District of Ucluelet, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nations, Ucluelet Elementary, Ucluelet Secondary School, and CWFS. We aim to eradicate the invasive Japanese knotwood patch at Big Beach in Ucluelet, plant 300 native trees and shrubs, host 2 volunteer planting days, and engage local classes from the elementary and secondary schools in habitat restoration, create 2 permanent interpretive signs, and engage Canadians in habitat stewardship through social media, communication, and reporting. The project has multiple stages and the funding received from Canada 150 Grants will be used to engage local community members in habitat restoration. Volunteer planting days will engage local community members as well as local schools in these conservation efforts, providing an educational experience.

Youth Inspired Harbour Clean up
Ucluelet Elementary School 

The purpose of this project is to educate students on the issues of marine debris in our ocean and particularly in our community. We will work together with Emerald Sea Protection Society (ESPS) in the school on day one to educate students on locating and removing marine debris. ESPS will then use ROV equipment to survey underwater the local boat basin and other local docks. On subsequent days ESPS will return to the school to explain the findings and location of marine debris. The school will then go in teams to assist with the divers by standing on the docks to remove the debris to local trucks for recycle and garbage. By restoring our communities central area for local economy of fishing and eco-tourism we will be making part of Canada continue to be an ideal place to live and visit.


This initiative is made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.

Announcing the 2016 Neighbourhood Small Grant recipients!

Congratulations to the 2016 Neighbourhood Small Grant Recipients!

CBT partnered with the Vancouver Foundation and Westcoast Community Resource Society to bring the Neighbourhood Small Grants program to the west coast for the second time.

Any local resident in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve region could apply for up to $500 for a project in their neighbourhood that shares skills and knowledge among residents, builds a sense of community ownership and pride, and respects and celebrates diversity.

CBT is proud to announce 21 projects were funded; congrats to the program leaders and keep an eye out for the following events happening near you!

Community Art Day
Donna Jean Walters and Christine Overvelde
Ucluelet, April 23 2017

Cedar Street Block Party
Dakota Palazzo and Allister Fernie
Tofino, Spring 2017

The Kindergarden
Kori Wechlin and Stephi Munshaw
Ahousaht, begininning November 2016

Hesquiaht Food Preservation 
Jeannnine Adams and Beverly Dorward
Hesquiaht, Nov-Feb 2016

The how to’s of Hydroponic Gardening 
Colin Sadler and Trina Mattson
Tofino, Late 2016

Ahousaht in Bloom
Marcie Callewaert and Marie Donahue
Ahousaht, November 19 2016

Ucluelet First Nation Christmas Feast/Culture Night
Debbie Mundy and Gloria Valentine
Hitacu, December 2016

Maaqtusiis Gymnasium Blessing
Jason Sam and Cedar Wechlin
Ahousaht, November 18 2016

Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness 
Keith Orchiston and Bobby Lax
Tofino, Late 2016

Free Screenwriting Workshop 
Erin McMullin and David Floody
Tofino, November 29-30

Jensen’s Bay Neighbourhood Awareness
Jay Fever and Andy Greig
Tofino, Spring 2017

Hot Springs Cove Winter Community Cafe 
Marilyn Lucas and Alexis Lucas
Hesquiaht, Winter 2016

Hitacu Community Dinner
Jenny Touchie and Lori Touchie
Hitacu, November 6 2016

Yew Wood Block Party
Nyla Attiana and Abbie Macpherson
Tofino, Halloween

Edwards Place Block Party
Ian Riddick and Jesse Arthurs
Ucluelet, February 5 2017

Brothers in Sport: Bridging the Cultural Divide
Cedar Wechlin and Joe McHale
Ucluelet/Ahousaht, December 9- 10 2016

All Nighter
Esther Robinson and Wayne Robinson
Ahousaht, Spring 2017

Grandchild and Grandparent Social
Margariete Timmermans and Drew Ryan
Tofino, Spring 2017

Community Clean-up-Scotch Broom Removal
Nicky Ling and Laura Fossen
Ucluelet, Spring 2017

Ahousaht Youth Program
Michelle Campbell and Ariel Campbell
Ahousaht, Winter 2016

Pumpkins in the Mist-an Enchanted Rainforest Walk Complete!
Shannon Szymczakowski and Katherine Loiselle
Ucluelet, October 30 2016

More info: Brooke Wood, Neighbourhood Small Grants program coordinator 250-725-2219 or