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! 

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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.
 

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.

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.