Roberta Tom reflects on her leadership journey

Roberta is a Tla-o-qui-aht community leader, mother of 5, grandmother of 4, great grandmother of 2, and member of the Leadership Vancouver Island (LVI) - West Coast Chapter class of 2016. She works multiple jobs and also operates a water-taxi business while maintaining strong commitments to family and community. This spring, she shared some thoughts about her experience in the program. Read what she has to say below! 


Local Education: conveniently rooted in territory

Between work and family commitments, life can get busy. Having LVI offered here at home made it easy to say, “yes” to the next step in my leadership journey. But beyond convenience, it was meaningful to do this personal and community development work in our territory, learning from the place we call home and feeling comfortable here. So often we’re working so hard it doesn’t allow for time to slow down and connect to the place. LVI helped me reflect on teachings from my mother and family I received when growing up Tla-o-qui-aht; it helped remind me of what I already know, gave me tools to stand up and let my voice be heard. It helped me be proud of who I am.

Remembering teachings passed down to me

Those who know me know I can be a little shy. LVI helped me boost my confidence. It helped us students realize that we’re all leaders in our own capacity. I remember at one point during LVI there was a presenter in the house in Ahousaht talking about how to be the best version of yourself. I asked them, "did you talk to my mother before coming here?" It was like I was re-learning traditional teachings my mother taught me... my mom knew what she was talking about. It was amazing to realize I already held this knowledge, I just had to tap into it.

In Tla-o-qui-aht teachings, being a leader doesn't mean just telling someone to go do something. Leadership includes meaning: there’s a connecting story behind a task. For example, it isn't "just do the breakfast dishes," but "do the dishes because we have a great day ahead of us, and the dishes are connected to food, and the food connects us to our environment and fuels us for the day." When we were growing up, we were taught about protocol.  We had to listen with our hearts and minds before speaking. Everything is connected through the water through the air… the end result is that we’re all going to do this together.

Together with an open mind

At one point we were doing an exercise on conflict resolution that made me think about this togetherness, and how it is connected to open-mindedness. The exercise challenged us to acknowledge our differences as individuals with different life paths, then to come together to plan and overcome our inabilities to come to a conclusion. It made us realize that while we can’t fix everything right away, we do have the ability to just sit with each other in the discomfort but not run away. To take the time to simply hold an open mind. Having an open mind is hard when you're outside your comfort zone, and it's hard to feel togetherness when you're uncomfortable. When I joined the group, I was very outside my comfort zone. Being in LVI helped me be outside my comfort zone in a good way. I learned that it’s okay to have a voice and not be shy. We all have difficulties in one way or another. It made me comfortable in saying “I don’t know” – we’re all in it together, and together we can know!

Post graduation

Since I have graduated, I feel a lot more confident in standing up for myself and having my voice heard in a positive way. Being able to say that I took the program has helped me succeed professionally, enabling me to hold management roles where I am employed. It helped me as an entrepreneur managing a water taxi business, and also gave me the confidence to get into the Aboriginal Management Program at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. Lately I have even been interested in learning boat mechanics! 
I have taken a number of courses through my life, but LVI was a "bridge" in so many special ways. It was a bridge to many different people and communities on the west coast. It was a bridge to Sauder and to get the financial support that let me do it. It's been a bridge to networks beyond the west coast. I have connected to LVI alumni on the east coast of the island too. We can link up with the network, get contacts, friendships, professional relationships and all that great stuff. 

Every chance I get, I say “do LVI, it's great and leads to to success for you." I want to help get people going on their own journey just like I did.

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 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.