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.

Brooke, Rebecca, and Robinson together after he brought Hiłḥiyiis to the CBT office following Carving on the Edge Festival.

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-quiaht) 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.

Congratulations to the 2018 Education Award Recipients!

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.




July Newsletter

Check out our July Newsletter at this link:


May-June 2018 Biosphere Research and Education Program Update

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 ArmitageAnthony 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.

CBT engages at the national level!

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 CBT delegation pictured with our Member of Parliament (from left to right: Rebecca Hurwitz, MP Gord Johns, Cathy Thicke, Alrene Paul, Tammy Dorward).


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.”

Staff and representatives of Canada’s 18 BRs pictured with MPs and other federal dignitaries at the event.


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.

Abedan – Together in a Circle. Arlene Paul hosting a table at the #ccunesco2018 Symposium on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. Thank you for sharing your Nuu-chah-nulth language knowledge and experiences Arlene!


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.

Ocean Friendly Businesses (Surfrider Campaign)

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!

Download (SurfRider_OFB_04.12.2018.pdf)

CBT Receives Partnership Award from the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association

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. 

Rebecca receiving a 2018 Partnership Award from BCPVPA President Kevin Reimer.

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. 

Rebecca with USS Principal Carol Sedgewick

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.

Be a Part of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust

Download (Be-a-part-of-the-Clayoquot-Biosphere-Trust-May-2018.pdf)

May Newsletter: Tree Planting, Vital Grants Recipients Announced, Education Awards, & More!

To view the May Newsletter, follow THIS LINK

Vital Grants Recipients Announced!

This past Friday, CBT hosted a small reception at Darwin’s cafe here in traditional Tla-o-qui-aht territory to celebrate the first annual Vital Grants awards with representatives from the receiving organizations! As the rain drummed hard on the roof of the cafe, attendees were welcomed into the space with a traditional opening from Tla-o-qui-aht teacher, singer, and carver, Dwayne Martin.

CBT Executive Director Rebecca Hurwitz then gave an introduction to Vital Grants, explaining how, as one former grantee pointed out during last year’s grant review process, “small grants make it difficult to address larger issues.” Vital Grants is a new stream of partnership funding to address regional priorities and complex challenges.

Through 4 grants of $20,000 each, the goal is to achieve and integrate all aspects of sustainability – cultural, social, economic, and environmental – in order to meet the mandate of the UNESCO Biosphere designation. The partnership approach is vital to achieving this mandate as grantees bring together the strengths of organizations, cultures, and communities.

Representatives from each grantee project then came forward to talk about the work they’re embarking on, and officially accept letters confirming their Vital Grant. The following organizations and projects were funded:

Carving on the Edge Festival SocietyPutting the culture in the hands of our children
The Nuu-chah- nulth Living Archive (nested under the Carving on the Edge Festival Society) will partner with the Language Keepers Society (LKS), cultural educator Gisele Martin, and the University of Victoria Clayoquot Sound Field School to offer intergenerational language and culture programming in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve Region.

Raincoast Education SocietyRaincoast Field School at Ucluelet Elementary School
The Raincoast Field School will implement a hands-on outdoor education program at Ucluelet Elementary School on a long-term basis. Raincoast Field School is an outdoor, experiential learning program designed to meet BC curricular learning outcomes taught by trained and experienced Raincoast Education Society staff. Students in Field School learn key aspects of the BC curriculum in a hands-on outdoor setting instead of the classroom. Since its inauguration in June 2014, Raincoast Field School has become a major part of the school community in Tofino, and the program has had many positive impacts on student learning and well being. Working hand in hand with teachers, RES instructors tailor individual lessons for each class in each grade, highlighting specific curricular material in structured activities and field trips.

Surfrider Foundation2018 Remote Clean Up Series & Ahousaht Beach Clean Team
Surfrider Pacific Rim will execute six remote shoreline clean up trips in both Clayoquot and Barkley Sound. Each clean up will contain a different theme pertaining to culture and environment, including Nuu-chah- nulth history and worldview, which will cultivate a variety of perspectives on challenging plastic pollution and marine debris. This project will lead to the creation of a beach clean team in Ahousaht who will participate in the remote clean-ups so that these members can continue to organize and execute clean-ups in their territory. To make this team sustainable, Surfrider’s goal is to facilitate the creation of a part-time to full-time paid beach keeper coordinator within the Ahousaht Band.

Westcoast Community Resources SocietyStrengthening a Strong Foundation Kliilth Pi-taap  Taaqumths Men’s Group

Kliith Pi-taap Taaqumths is the act of stomping on the ground before building a house. It signifies creating a
firm foundation. The men’s group was established by men for men to come together and support one another.
It started organically in Tla-o-qui-aht in recognition that there was no support currently available and has since expanded to include men from other first nations. WCRS and the Vancouver Island Health Authority are partnering with the men’s group to provide cultural activities for men (first nations and non first nations) to promote well-being and build resilience in men.