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.

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.

Announcing Spring 2022 Neighbourhood Small Grants !

June 14, 2022
We are excited to share nearly 20 grass-roots community projects that will be receiving Neighbourhood Small Grants this cycle.  As usual, the West Coast Community Resources Society, our community partner for creating the cheques for community members. NSG makes empowering, accessible opportunities for residents from all demographics rise up and make their communities more inclusive, vibrant places to live. Check out the projects below and reach out to colin@clayoquotbiosphere.org if you want to connect to a project leader and participate. 

Biosphere Centre: moving forward on the land in a good way

June 13, 2022
On June 2nd, the CBT board, staff, and partners gathered at the future site of the Clayoquot Biosphere Centre for a small ceremony led by Tla-o-qui-aht cultural workers Chris and Hayden Seitcher. The intentions were simple yet profound: to reflect with gratitude on the work done to bring the Biosphere Centre initiative where it is today and to envision the next phase of the project.

CBT Granting Update and Equity Pathway

February 22, 2022
We continue to reflect on key learnings from our UNESCO periodic review, our Vital Signs research, and the pandemic. We’ve committed to work with volunteers, First Nations, communities, and partners on making CBT a more equity-driven organization: in our granting program, in our organizational culture, and beyond.

The Coastal Family Resource Coalition is hiring

February 22, 2022
The Coastal Family Resource Coalition (CFRC) is looking to hire a qualified proponent to provide leadership capacity and coordination services for the CFRC, a regional network coordinated and administered by the CBT and guided by the CFRC Executive Committee. 

We're looking for a new team member

February 15, 2022
We're hiring a Program Coordinator to work 30 hours/week. As part of our goal to be representative of and responsive to the communities we work with, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT) is seeking a Nuu-chah-nulth person to join our staff team.

Seeking a contractor to support research and communication for the Indigenous-led Westcoast Stewardship Corridor

February 4, 2022
The CBT is supporting the establishment of an Indigenous-led Stewardship Corridor. We are looking for a contractor (individual or firm) to create an inventory of existing Indigenous-led stewardship and resource management activities and collaborations on the west coast of Vancouver Island (VI) (from T’Sou-ke Nation to the Clayoquot Biosphere Region) and the vision forward for a collaborative stewardship corridor.

Audit Services Invitation to Tender

October 25, 2021
The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust Society (CBT) is requesting tenders from qualified firms of public accountants to audit the financial statements of the CBT for the year ending December 31, 2021, and if a contract is assigned for each fiscal year ending during that period.

Join our team as an At-Large Director

September 24, 2021
The CBT is seeking expressions of interest in a 4-year volunteer term as Alternate At-Large Director. The CBT exists to support research, education and programs that advance conservation, the understanding of natural processes in the marine and terrestrial ecosystems and that promote the health of individuals and communities in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. The CBT relies on the vision and strategic direction of a committed Board of Directors representing a diversity of experience, skills and interests supportive of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere designation.

2021 Discretionary Grants

August 6, 2021
Every year, the CBT provides small project funding (up to $5,000) in the following four areas: Research and Environment, Community Development, Arts and Culture, and Youth and Education. Each granting stream is built upon different funding priorities and overseen by its own Advisory Committee comprised of 12-15 local volunteers with interest and expertise relevant to the specific grant.

2021 Youth Action Grants

July 21, 2021
Our Youth Action Grants are one of the ways we fulfil our priority of Empowering Youth in the region. This is our 7th year offering youth-led grants and we are always inspired by the creative projects and their beneficial ripple effects in the community.

New Nelly Heyduck Art Collaboration

July 2, 2021
Nelly Heyduck has created a beautiful new print depicting our biosphere region in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere designation.

Announcing the 2021 Vital Grant Awards

June 24, 2021
Our Vital Grant program began in 2018 with the goal to address regional priorities and complex challenges influencing sustainability in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. These $15,000-20,000 grants support meaningful collaboration between organizations, communities and cultures and must include a minimum of two project partners. This year, the CBT also reviewed Vital Grant applications with an equity lens by considering whether projects addressed regional social and health inequities.

2021 Biosphere Research Award

June 14, 2021
We are so pleased to share the details of Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society’s project funded by our Biosphere Research Award for 2021!

Announcing the Spring 2021 Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants

May 14, 2021
We’re thrilled to announce the project funded by CBT’s spring 2021 Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants! These grants are designed to help us foster connection in our communities during the pandemic when many of us can feel isolated and vulnerable. When we feel a sense of belonging in our community, we're more likely to be engaged in activities that make it a better place to live.

Holiday Giving Catalogue raises over $42K for regional charities

January 13, 2021
Over the month of December, the CBT worked alongside 20 local charities to raise funds for our most critical needs. Donors answered the call to stand together to strengthen our communities and ecosystems and together we raised $42,675. These gifts of all sizes will have a collective impact in a region that means so much to us all.