Tribe Expands Beachfront Village in National Park

Tofino, British Columbia — In an historic model of social evolution, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations band of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, resurged in influence, began a new community, and built it employing European-based environmental precepts. The new village site occupies an ancestral summer encampment area at the base of a high bluff along Schooner Cove, in Pacific Rim National Park Preserve.

The Canadian government, managing tribal lands in the traditional system of partnership with First Nations people, initially built a cedar boardwalk hiking trail along the bluff in order to protect its environmental integrity and provide a pleasant hike. Experts such as John McIntosh, ecosystem scientist with Pacific Rim, found evidence that the bluff served as a crucial travel route for wildlife. Old-growth Sitka spruce trees approaching 300 feet in height and 35 feet in circumference shade the area.

The Tla-o-qui-aht consulted with Pacific Rim officials, who identified the bluff as an ecological constant of primary consideration in selecting the site for the new settlement. Officials from the Canadian and tribal governments agreed on an oceanfront location a short distance away from the high ground, which continues to serve in its ancient role as a forested anchor of the new Schooner Cove First Nations village.

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