Clayoquot Sound is located in British Columbia on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The region, unceded traditional territory and home of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, is world-renowned for its ancient rainforests, giant cedars, wild salmon, timber wolves, black bears, and whales. Many valleys in Clayoquot Sound remain unlogged only because of committed activism. During the 1980s a blockade kept the loggers off Meares Island until First Nations obtained a court injunction and declared the island a Tribal Park. In 1993, the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience in Canadian history thwarted plans by the BC government to log two-thirds of Clayoquot Sound and in January 2000, Clayoquot Sound was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Today mining proposals, salmon farms, and oil tankers threaten Clayoquot Sound. These corporations offer short-term economic benefits with the price of long-term social and environmental impacts. Instead of industrial development, Clayoquot Sound needs to develop a sustainable culture that allows ecosystems to flourish alongside healthy human communities.
Nuu-chah-nulth have been saying all along: ‘hishuk ish tsawalk – everything is one.'
My husband and I spent some time in Tofino this July and were fortunate to have seen much of the wildlife that lives there (black bears, orcas, sea otters, eagles, starfish, and porpoises). We decided to do a five hour kayaking tour this time, exploring the beautiful islands of Clayoquot Sound surrounding Tofino. The sun warmed the back of my neck as I trailed my hand in the clear water, watching the ripples it caused. We stopped paddling and let the kayak glide smoothly through the waters of Clayoquot Sound. We had paused for reflection in one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Mountains and islands rose up in every direction, floating on the haze that covered the sea in the middle distance. Bull kelp floated up from the sea bed and when we looked carefully, we could see kelp crab hiding amongst the kelp leaves.
In the distance, a seal bobbed his head eyeing us curiously and slipping into the water as we paddled too close. Gulls stood in groups on the rocks, silhouetted by the sun, and then commenced flight, skimming low over the water at high speed, so gracefully. I closed my eyes and listened to the lapping of the water while the kayak rocked gently from side to side. An overwhelming sense of peace came with the stillness of that July afternoon. Such moments in life are rare and the memory of that afternoon will stay with me forever.