About the Tribal Parks Allies

Our Story

Nuu-chah-nulth peoples have lived on and cared for our lands, waters, forests and fisheries on the West Coast of Vancouver Island since time beyond memory. In the Tla-o-qui-aht system of governance, the Ha’wiih (Hereditary Chiefs) inherit exclusive rights and responsibilities (Ha’wilthmis) over their lineage’s traditional territory (Ha’huulthii). The Ha’wiih’s ha’wilthmis is to care for the land and for the people (maastchim) under his jurisdiction. The Tla-o-qui-aht ha’houlthee borders are defined by natural watershed areas, extending East from the peaks of the mountains near Sutton Pass to the open horizon over the Pacific ocean.

When European traders and eventually settlers came to these lands, they failed to appreciate the significance of Tla-o-qui-aht laws and culture. Often refugees seeking shelter from desperate living conditions in Europe and Eastern Canada, the early settlers did not understand that Nuu-chah-nulth cosmology – the ethics and values that dictated appropriate relationships between humans and non-human life – had enabled a flourishing society of tens of thousands of people to live in Clayoquot Sound among the giant cedars and a legendary abundance of salmon.

Too many non-Indigenous Canadians and other displaced peoples have inherited the conviction that human proliferation intrinsically displaces and destroys non-human life. The teachings we uphold from the lived experience of our ancestors reveal a different truth: that the ecologies we call home are diminished without our stewardship. Tribal Parks Allies is an invitation from the Tla-o-qui-aht people to share these teachings – and to collectively redefine a local relationship that will once again hold the notion of i’isaak (respect for life in all its diversity) as its highest truth.

The Tribal Parks Guardians

The Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardians are a team of young Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members committed to fulfilling the Ha’wiih’s (Hereditary Chiefs’) stewardship ha’wilthmis (rights and responsibilities). As guardians of the Ha’huulthii (traditional territory), they fulfill multiple critical roles towards achieving the First Nations’ and Tribal Parks’ vision of restoring the homeland to historic levels of ecological abundance:

Our Guardians are trained environmental monitors – we maintain a presence at major construction sites to assure that environmental precautions are being observed and respected.

We monitor our streams and assess their health, insuring that our salmon have an appropriate habitat to spawn in and mitigating erosion. Each year we swim our rivers and count salmon as they finish their lifelong migration.

In partnership with local NGO Central Westcoast Forest Society, our guardians are restoring habitats neglected by former industries. We are still here, and we care deeply about the health of our homeland and the beings we share it with. Thanks to Tribal Parks Ally Ocean Outfitters, our Guardians will continue to restore the Tranquil watershed over the next few years.

Visitors travel great distances to immerse themselves in our homeland. We maintain the internationally renowned Big Tree Trail – which meanders through Wanachus/Hilthuu’is (Meares Island) Tribal Park, a site that our people and our allies defended from industrial logging in the 1980s and ‘90s. We are committed to improving and expanding trail networks throughout the Tribal Parks – improving and contextualizing visitors’ experiences and bolstering Tofino’s tourism economy.

Thanks to the support of our Allies, this year we will be able to invest in the infrastructure needed to monitor our ha’huulthii. In partnership with local Allied NGOs like the Surfrider foundation and Clayoquot Cleanup, we will be able to expand our cleanup efforts and monitor popular camping and recreation areas to prevent the dumping of wastes in our waters and mitigate plastics washing up on our beaches.

Vision

A Clayoquot Sound whose diversity strengthens and supports Tla-o-qui-aht and other Nuu-chah-nulth leadership, promoting stable, just, and abundant local ecologies, cultures, and economies for all.

Mission

To foster a culture of respect and support for Tla-o-qui-aht governance and enable the stewards of Tla-o-qui-aht haḥuułi (traditional territory) to protect, manage, and improve the ecological, cultural, and economic vitality of the region for all in accordance with the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks vision and consistent with Tofino’s Vision to Action community plan.

The Tribal Parks Allies Certification

The TPAC standard provides an opportunity for non-Indigenous residents and visitors of Tla-o-qui-aht haḥuułi (traditional territory) to participate in stewardship of Tla-o-qui-aht lands and waters. To be eligible for certification, businesses are asked to recognize the inherent and constitutional right of the Tla-o-qui-aht people to manage and monitor the haḥuułi, and to cooperate with certification standards. In turn, Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks will recognize complying businesses as “Allies” to the First Nation, give them the right to display the TPAC logo, and offer the same commitment to seek ways to deepen relationships between our communities.

First Nations in Canada have the right to self-government within their traditional territories as affirmed in Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is party, reaffirms this right and furthermore acknowledges the fundamentally important role Indigenous peoples play in environmental stewardship and protection. Of course, residents of ƛaɁuukwiath haḥuułi need not look beyond their own communities to understand these relationships. Much of Clayoquot Sound’s rich ecology survives because of the dedicated political activism of ƛaɁuukwiath leaders and members. In the 1980s and ‘90s, logging blockades led by the ƛaɁuukwiath and Ahousaht First Nations saved Meares Island and transformed Tofitian culture, promoting an awareness that the region’s ecological vitality was crucial to achieving its cultural and economic potential. A holistic awareness of the Nuu-chah-nulth principle of heshook ish tsawalk, or “everything is one and interconnected” sets the local culture apart and attracts visitors from around the world.

 

Guiding Principles

The Canadian government promises to respect Indigenous Nations’ fundamental rights to autonomy, self-determination, and to derive economic benefits from their homelands in (1) the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, (2) the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and (3) Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. We believe that community-based leadership inspiring National institutional change is key to binding the Canadian government to meet its yet-unfulfilled promises. The Tribal Parks Allies Certification requirements describe a step-by-step process that businesses can engage in to become genuine Allies to their Indigenous stewards.

Indigenous marginalization in Canadian society is driven by complex intersections of power, privilege, race, history, gender, socio-economic status, legal systems, educational systems, economic systems, climate change, environment, mobility and countless other factors. What may represent the cutting edge of community-based reconciliation today may be insufficient tomorrow. Allied Certifications is committed to continuously raising the standards for what it means to be an Ally to Indigenous peoples and how to move towards socially, economically, and ecologically just communities. This is why we use an adaptive management strategy which will continuously seek to raise standards as new opportunities to achieve our shared vision of a sustainable Clayoquot Sound arise.

As the Tribal Parks Allies Certification standard grows, we are seeking ways to partner with academic institutions and local knowledge holders to collect qualitative and quantitative data documenting the social, economic, and ecological outcomes associated with the standard and broader Tribal Parks initiatives. Data will be used to inform adaptive management decision-making, promote transparency and accountability, and guide future Allied Certifications initiatives.

Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks envisions achieving a continuous Indigenous Protected Area which extends beyond Tla-o-qui-aht Haḥuułi (traditional territory) and throughout Clayoquot Sound. Tribal Parks Allies strives to engage neighbouring First Nations including Ahousaht and Hesquiaht First Nations in developing stronger protections for our respective traditional territories.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is a certified open-books Nation by the First Nation Financial Management Act and a registered charity. All Ecosystem Stewardship Fees accumulated by the Tribal Parks Allies program finance Tribal Parks initiatives and will be reported in Annual Reports and forecasted in Annual Capital Plans by Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks. These documents will be digitally available on this website. Certified Allies can receive a physical copy in the mail upon request.

Tribal Parks are established and steered by Allied Certifications. Our strategy is to continuously transition agency towards incumbent Tla-o-qui-aht administrators until the program is run autonomously by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

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