The Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve guiding principle is the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations philosophy Hishuk ish ts’awalk or “everything is one. Hishuk ish ts’awalk represents the interconnections between ourselves and the ecosystems that we live within.
Eight communities care for the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. Through participation with the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and other organizations throughout the biosphere reserve, members of these eight communities foster our relationship with our environment, helping us build a better, more sustainable future.
The following communities are a part of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve Region. If you are a researcher or teacher visiting the region, you may find our Education Asset Inventory a useful resource.
Ahousaht First Nation
The largest of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, the Ahousaht First Nation is located along Vancouver Island’s west coast north of Tofino. Ahousaht is from a Nootka word probably meaning “facing opposite from the ocean” or “people living with their backs to the mountains”. Its vision is self-government that promotes strong, healthy communities, which are guided by n’aas (Creator) and Haw’iih (Hereditary Chiefs). Ahousaht is also home to Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District
The Regional District is responsible for community and development services that encompass the Tofino area to the north, Bamfield area to the south and the Alberni Valley in the middle. As a regional authority, it works collaboratively with provincial ministries, municipal governments and First Nations.
District of Tofino
Tofino is a community of approximately 1,750 people, located on the Esowista Peninsula of Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The town is surrounded by coastal temperate rain forests, and includes a number of sandy beaches. Despite its small permanent population, Tofino draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, making it one of British Columbia’s most popular vacation destinations.
District of Ucluelet
Ucluelet is a community of approximately 1,650 people south of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. It provides easy access to Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands Unit of Pacific Rim National Park. This award-winning community is becoming a major tourist destination while providing quality services and amenities for permanent residents, including a new community centre. Ucluelet hosts numerous cultural festivities and offers diverse recreational opportunities to both locals and residents.
Hesquiaht First Nation
Hesquiaht is the most remote and northerly of the Nuu-chah-Nulth First Nations in Clayoquot Sound, comprising approximately 40 homes and about 100 people. The Nation has recently constructed a “green” school and has committed to being a zero net energy community. In addition to the well-known natural hot springs at the aptly-named Hot Springs Cove and colonial site of Cougar Annie’s Gardens, the Nation is becoming a leader in local food security and food independence initiatives.
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
The Tla-o-qui-aht Nation has two main communities: Esowista which abuts the Pacific Rim National Park outside of Tofino; and Opitsaht, on Meares Island. The Nation is in the midst of an expansion at Esowista and is focused on sustainable economic development. It operates an award-winning resort-hotel and has established Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks and watersheds in Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory. Tla-o-qui-aht has managed to balance human and ecosystem well-being in their operations, as taught by Tla-o-qui-aht ancestors and adapted to today’s world.
Toquaht First Nation
The Toquaht are the “people of the narrow channel” or “people of the narrow place in front.” The smallest of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations (135 people), its seven traditional village sites cover 196 hectares, south of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Macoah, the main community, is located west of Toquaht Bay on the North side of Barkley Sound. In addition to forestry and fishing activities, the Toquaht Nation operates a campground and marina.
The territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ government includes nine traditional sites on the northwest side of Barkley Sound, south of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. The main village of Hitacu (Ittatsoo), with a population of approximately 200 residents, is located 28 kilometres from Ucluelet. The Nation’s vision statement emphasizes environmental stewardship, safe housing, education and economic independence, as well as healthy relationships with other neighbours and governments.