Michelle Hall talks about her community leadership journey

Michelle Hall is a settler living in the unceded territory of the Tla-o-qhi-aht Frist Nations, otherwise known as Tofino. She founded her business Cedarwood Cove, an adventure and wellness retreat, in 2013 with her husband Alan. Alongside running her business, Michelle is an environmental leader for a non-profit grassroots organization called Surfrider Foundation and actively volunteers in her community, as well as being a fulltime student with Royal Roads University. Photo by Marnie Recker Photography. 

What does it mean to you that LVI a place-based, locally offered learning opportunity?

It was a privilege to be able to learn in Nuu-chah-nulth territory and to be fully submerged in culture and traditional teachings from so many experts living here within the shared communities. This is a course that provides a chance to further education and skills in leadership, and is also an opportunity to learn about the current and very real strengths and challenges of communities we live in, and understand the deep-rooted trauma created from residential schools. When we can understand more about the place we are living in, and respect cultural history, we find ways to connect and understand other people we live alongside, and embrace opportunities to learn from each other and move forward together in ways that can lift each other up. This region is rich with ecological and cultural teachings, with many diverse experts to learn from!

What were the biggest personal developments LVI facilitated for you on your leadership journey?

“Lead self, Lead others, Lead community” was the most consistent message that remains with me. It teaches me that in order to maintain sustainability and success in my work as a leader, it is me who is in charge of ensuring my own personal balance, my own joy, my own development journey and my own workload capacity. I am reminded that a good leader leads by example and supports other leaders, adaptively co-managing teams and receiving new ways of doing something with an open mind. The biggest challenge I overcame was accepting a traumatic mistake within the duration of the course, and finding forgiveness for myself, and for others whilst moving forward with clear communication and a commitment to understanding. By showing up for the uncomfortable moments, I proved to myself that I was becoming a better leader.  “If you think you are a good leader, try telling someone’s dog what to do!” 

Can you speak about the relationships formed through LVI? 

I would never have experienced the course the way I was able to without the support, knowledge and trust shared so generously with me from my diad Anna Atleo. Having an assigned partner during LVI for me was critical to understanding the strengths and challenges of other leaders in this community. Furthermore, coming from different cultures and somehow holding the exact same values as each other was extraordinarily unique and wonderful. When we can listen to other peoples stories and hold space, we can embrace their victories and cradle the discomfort. Through this practice we open possibilities that can form beautiful and trusting relationships to work together. I was fortunate to have a fantastic team to work on a team project with and this was another example of learning from a place of diversity, traditional knowledge and inclusion, which in turn developed adaptive skills so we could keep project tasks sustainable and suited to everyone’s capacity. I’m so grateful to still hold friendships with all of my peers!

How has LVI impacted your life and work within and beyond our communities since graduation? 

Through the creation of my “Personal Leadership Plan” I was able to identify the many seeds of opportunities my personal journey could take, and thus I was inspired to return to University to complete a masters in Environmental Practice. I was able to use the credits gained on LVI as part of my application which was useful since I am a foreign student with over 20 years of absence from academic education. I understood that I didn’t need to know ‘everything’ to be a good leader, but I wanted to know more about the things that I found interesting and that would open up more opportunities to move forward in my environmental career. I invested more time to creating more leaders in my team, encouraging new leaders to step into my role as chairperson for the Pacific Rim chapter, and bringing more development and training to support new ideas. After I opened this space to the universe, I was then elected to become Vice President of Surfrider Canada and awarded the Chapter Leadership award from the Surfrider Foundation head office in the states. Instead of trying to grasp onto leadership, I have really enjoyed opening more opportunities of leadership to the whole Surfrider team, which has, in turn, meant incredible progress and success for our mission and has created the space for myself to find a balance for all of the seeds of opportunities I have created.

Announcing the fall 2023 Culture Neighbourhood Small Grants!

December 6, 2023
We are excited to share this list of grass-roots community projects that received Culture Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) this past fall cycle. This has been our most successful cycle to date, with a total of 33 projects in the region, 15 projects for Clayoquot Sound NGS and 18 for Ahousaht NSG!

Holiday Giving Unites Communities

December 4, 2023
As the holiday season draws near, the timeless tradition of holiday giving beckons, transcending cultures and religions, and embodying the spirit of generosity and compassion. In the heart of this global tradition lies an opportunity to make a positive impact on local organizations that sustain our region to help advance their mission far beyond the holiday season.

Truth, Honour & the Way Forward

November 20, 2023
In partnership with Ucluelet Secondary School (USS), the Legacy of Hope Foundation, and Canadian Heritage, the CBT hosted an exhibit to honor the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Take a look at the video to learn more about the event.

CBT's Youth Intern, Reflects on her Beach Cleanup Experience

August 28, 2023
This summer, CBT's Youth Intern, Janessa, has been supporting us in a wide range of projects across the organization and also participated in initiatives hosted by other local non-profits. One of our goals was to offer her the opportunity to experience diverse types of work as well as acquire skills and knowledge in many different fields. Learn about her time with Surfrider Pacific Rim where she helped remove debris from a local beach.

Join our team as Administrative Assistant

August 18, 2023
PLEASE NOTE: Applications are now closed for this position.  The Administrative Assistant will support the CBT across all program areas. The successful candidate will coordinate the day-to-day administration and operations of the CBT office, creating a welcoming space, updating administrative practices, and maintaining records. They will work closely with the Executive Director to support the Board of Directors, as well as work closely with the Finance Coordinator to assist with bookkeeping processes. The Administrative Assistant will work across the CBT to support our programs and events.

Announcing the Spring 2023 Neighbourhood Small Grants!

June 27, 2023
We are excited to share this list of grass-roots community projects that received Neighbourhood Small Grants this past spring cycle. NSG makes empowering, accessible opportunities for residents from all demographics to make their communities more inclusive, and vibrant places to live. Check out the projects below and reach out to marianne@clayoquotbiosphere.org if you want to connect to a project leader and participate.

National Truth and Reconciliation Exhibit

June 13, 2023
Here is a video that was created last year in partnership with the Ucluelet Secondary School, the Legacy of Hope Foundation, and Canadian Heritage to honor the second annual day for Truth and Reconciliation. We have partnered again this year to bring this impactful youth-led learning opportunity for our third annual exhibit.

Hišinq – “All Together”

June 12, 2023
Have you heard that the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT) is building a Biosphere Center? You might have read about it online or in local print media, maybe you heard it on the radio, or perhaps you joined us for the open house that took place at the current CBT office. However, you might not be aware that the CBT has been working on this project for over a decade and has taken many steps to create a space that will serve and reflect the values held by each community in the region.

We're looking for a new team member! (PDF) 221.42 KB

April 21, 2023
PLEASE NOTE: This position has been filled. The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust is seeking an intern to provide support for a range of projects across the organization. This position will provide opportunities to work alongside and be mentored by different team members, learning about and providing administrative support for projects aligned with the candidate's skills and interests.

Vital Grants - Looking Back & Looking Forward

January 18, 2023
Five years ago, CBT launched Vital Grants: a stream of partnership funding to address regional priorities and complex challenges that influence sustainability in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. Vital Grants were launched in response to grantee feedback that small grants (e.g. $5000) and short timelines make it difficult to address larger issues

Join our team as Director of Partnerships for Conservation

January 9, 2023
Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Partnerships for Conservation will build out a new role collaborating with partners on conservation projects, as well as leading research, planning, and engagement activities linked to the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere designation and Canada Target 1. The individual participates in relevant networks and committees aligned with key projects and contributes to the objectives of the Canada Fund Agreement, the MAB Statutory Framework and the MAB Lima Action Plan.

The 2022 Holiday Giving Catalogue is here

December 2, 2022
'Tis the season for giving and standing tall as a region. We're honoured to bring back the Giving Catalogue—an annual collaborative holiday initiative.

Living Building Challenge

October 5, 2022
CBT has committed to achieving the Living Building Challenge! LBC provides a sustainable framework for the design and construction of buildings and cultivates a symbiotic relationship between people, communities, and nature. Living Buildings are regenerative and inspire innovative methods of construction throughout the building!

2022 Discretionary Grants

September 6, 2022
Each year, the CBT provides funding up to $5,000 for small projects that promote the health of individuals, communities and ecosystems throughout the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. Each granting stream is overseen by an advisory committee of local volunteers who have an interest and expertise related to the grant.