Wah’nah’juss Hilth’hooiss (Meares Island)

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Sierra Club BC 50 Places Project

Moses Martin, Chief Councillor for Tla-o-qui-aht Nation reflects on the declaration of Meares Island Tribal Park

On the day of the 35 year anniversary of the written Meares Island Tribal Parks Declaration, hear the words of then Chief, and today Chief Moses Martin. Recorded on April 21, 2019 with Meares Island in the background.

Posted by Indigenous Circle of Experts ICE Core on Friday, April 26, 2019

Moses Martin, Chief Councillor for Tla-o-qui-aht Nation reflects on the declaration of Meares Island. Video by the Indigenous Circle of Experts.

Wah’nah’juss Hilth’hooiss (Meares Island) contains spectacular ancient rainforests that make Clayoquot Sound legendary around the world. Located in Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht territory near Tofino, the area has been stewarded since time immemorial by Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. With some of the world’s largest and oldest cedar trees, the island has provided medicines, drinking water, cedar for carving and many other valuable gifts to the people of the area.

In the late 1970s, the Tla-o-qui-aht became concerned about massive clearcutting of the island’s old-growth forests by logging company MacMillan Bloedel. They set up blockades on the island. Friends of Clayoquot Sound was formed by other concerned residents who joined them in opposing the industrial logging. Sierra Club BC members including Vicky Husband began educating people about the area and advocating for protection.

On Earth Day in 1984, Chief Moses Martin stood on the blockades and declared Meares Island a Tribal Park. Courts ruled that no development could happen on the island until outstanding Nuu-chah-nulth land claims were resolved, and the island’s forests remain intact today.

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Indigenous Tribal Parks Guardians continue to steward the island according to the cultural laws of the Ha’wiih (Hereditary Chiefs). Celebrations are being held through 2019 to mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Meares Island Tribal Park Declaration.

The Tla-o-qui-aht have a vision of expanding their ecotourism operations Under their guidance and direction, allies are helping to maintain and expand trails including the island’s internationally renowned Big Tree Trail. The Tla-o-qui-aht have also declared three more tribal parks in their territory: Ha`uukmin, Tranquil Tribal Park and Esowista Tribal Park. Learn how you can enjoy and support these sustainable tourism opportunities with this report from Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks and the Wilderness Committee.

As part of the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance, Sierra Club BC continues to work with Indigenous Nations and the BC government on solutions for lasting protection of the intact rainforest valleys of Clayoquot Sound through land use planning and conservation financing.

Read more about the history and anniversary of Wah’nah’juss Hilth’hooiss in this National Observer piece by Emilee Gilpin.

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