August 15th, 2013

Tribal Parks is a Tla-o-qui-aht initiative to re-enliven management and stewardship of Tla-o-qui-aht territory with traditional values. The values are depicted in the totem poles of Tla-o-qui-aht people.

“Hupath” or the sun, as a great giver of life, is a very important crest. Tla-o-qui-aht uses this crest on the top of totem poles as a reminder of the teaching of respect for all life.  All of the crests are important and many stories with morals pertain to each of them; however the teaching of the Hupath crest is one which can give you a basic idea of how Tla-o-qui-aht people once stewarded its’ territory and are now rebuilding stewardship through re-connecting to the territory.

People, in the area known as the Tofino-Clayoquot Sound area, were for thousands of years a healthy part of the ecosystem. The relationship and connection to the land and sea were very in depth and strong. These connections were injured through forced assimilation programs led by government of Canada and the Roman Catholic Church . Tla-o-qui-aht people are strong and have retained cultural teachings and values despite multiple generations facing incredible adversity. Tla-o-qui-aht people believe that humans can once again be a healthy component of the nismaa, (land), ocean and air environments. Traditional Tla-o-qui-aht ways of living evolved out of being observant of nature and developing values from that observance.  Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks aim to be the model of modern day governance of Tla-o-qui-aht territory in an evolving culture which is rooted in  in traditional values.

There are many components to the Tribal Parks vision. For example, part of that vision is to value trees standing; therefore it is part of the mission to find a way to make standing trees economically feasible in today’s strange economy system. Tla-o-qui-aht and other nearby tribes bought out the logging companies that were once in the Clayoquot sound area to try ensure that logging would not continue without consent and in the destructive clearcut manner that it once happened in these parts. Some other components of the Tribal Parks vision are:

Rebuilding wild salmon stocks
Fostering clean air and clean water
Maintaining the resources and ability to live the way our ancestors did, off the  the local land area
Cultural and eco-tourism -as part of building a viable, sustainable economy with strong educational and stewardship principles
Sharing Tla-o-qui-aht territory with others in a healthy way

Tribal Parks is an innovative organization that is working on the ground and at various levels in politics to work towards it’s vision; the vision of Tla-o-qui-aht people.

Read more about Tribal Parks here:
Wilderness Committee publication on Tribal Parks
Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Website

The T’ashii Paddle School and Tofino SUP staff make it part of their work to raise awareness about the Tribal Parks initiative.