Tyson Touchie, with wife Anita Charleson-Touchie, throws a shaka in the face of having to close his surf shop located at the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Tyson Touchie, with wife Anita Charleson-Touchie, throws a shaka in the face of having to close his surf shop located at the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Disheartening closeout for Indigenous owned surf shop

Found at the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction, Wya Point Surf Shop was cruising towards its 10th anniversary

The West Coast lost another small business this month.

Wya Point Surf Shop owner Tyson Touchie spent the weekend blowing out the remaining crumbs of his inventory – glass singlefins, changing towels, surf tees, board wax, nature books – and will pass the keys to his surf shop back over to Ucluelet First Nation (UFN) government.

“I’m deflated. The wind’s out of my sail,” said Touchie.

The Indigenous small business owner said he thinks the new Ups-cheek ta-shee multi-use pathway through the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve might have had something to do with the fate of Wya Point Surf.

“[The path] is gonna be an awesome ride and hike, but for me it’s a double-edged sword. I think the Nation is seeing more value and more money to be had and I guess they want their take,” Touchie said.

“We made it through our 2020 season pretty well because we had so much local traffic and repeat customers, but they want to increase my lease by five times what it was,” he continued, adding that he was told the reason for the dramatic increase is that they are going by “market rates”.

The Nation declined to comment due to privacy concerns.

“I just want everybody to know that we are setting a really dangerous precedent right now. It’s not really fair for any [Ucluelet First Nation] entrepreneur who is just starting out,” Touchie told the Westerly in a Dec. 15 phone interview.

Wya Point Surf Shop would have celebrated its 10th anniversary this summer. Located next to the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction, Touchie’s surf shop was one of the few Indigenous owned and operated spaces where visitors to the region could interact with someone from UFN, notes Touchie.

“I value what we set out to do. To provide opportunity to our people and to provide good work, not just minimum wage. It’s just disheartening. To see all that work go in and to be underappreciated,” Touchie said.

He went on to tell the Westerly that he had just finished paying off his debt of $50,000, and that taking out another loan and going into debt again would have just been too risky.

“I honestly love the place. I love being in that place. If you take the silver lining, if I had a choice, I’d be down at the beach every day. I was telling my kids, ‘you know when you see your dad out there and he’s waiting for a wave?’ Well, that’s what I’m doing right now, I’m just waiting for the next wave,” he said.


Welcome to Kwis-ii-tis: Local Ucluelet First Nation surf instructors Byron, left, Tyson and Tyson jr at the Wya Point Surf Shop in July 2020. (Facebook photo)



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Ucluelet mountain bike non-profit takes flight

READ: Virtual marketplace for Ucluelet and Tofino artisans in the works

First NationsSurfingucluelet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. (tofinohiking.com photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino’s mayoralty candidates lay out key differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Clockwise from top right, chamber executive director Jen Dart moderated a Zoom-based forum last week where Tofino’s mayoralty candidates J.J. Belanger, Andrea McQuade and Dan Law made their pitch to lead their community. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Tofino mayoralty candidates face off at forum

Town to elect new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Most Read