Kennedy Lake is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, but more resources are needed to make sure those visiting the area are respecting their surroundings. (Westerly file photo)

Kennedy Lake is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, but more resources are needed to make sure those visiting the area are respecting their surroundings. (Westerly file photo)

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation says more resources needed to keep Tribal Parks open during pandemic

Tribal Park Allies program needs more buy-in from Tofino businesses.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout B.C. and tourists continuing to arrive at a significantly higher clip than expected, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is ready to close its Tribal Parks unless more West Coast businesses step up to support the resources needed to manage the industry’s impacts and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“If a sustainable solution cannot be achieved by engaging widespread participation in the Tribal Park Allies certification standard, then it will not be possible for the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation to continue welcoming guests into our Tribal Parks,” read a statement released by the TFN, whose traditional territories include Tofino and areas within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, last week.

“The safety of our community members cannot continue to be compromised by a tourism economy which does not contribute to crucial community services, like our Emergency Operations Centre and Tribal Park Guardians…Our Nation opened our Tribal Parks to support an economic recovery for our Tribal Parks Allies and for local residents dependent on the tourism economy. All residents of the Tribal Parks are feeling the impact of COVID-19, but we remain optimistic that through engaging in Tribal Parks Allies we can collectively overcome these challenges and emerge as a stronger, more resilient community.”

READ MORE: First Nations ecosystem service fee in the works for Tofino

TFN Tribal Administrator Saya Masso told the Westerly News that the volume of tourists hammering the West Coast took the region by surprise and that closing Tribal Parks has been discussed, but is not the desired outcome.

“Tla-o-qui-aht was in stride with reopening with the region, but we do need to see an uptick in the Tribal Park Allies Program so that we can have the resources to build back better,” he said.

The Tribal Park Allies program is designed to help fund community resiliency through a voluntary 1 per cent ‘user fee’ that participating businesses ask customers to pay with the money going towards funding the tools needed to mitigate the social and environmental impacts of tourism.

“We expect that tourists that are coming here to see a beautiful area would be willing to pay an extra penny on their dollar,” he said, reiterating that the money does not come from the business operator, but is a voluntary one percent ‘user fee’ paid for by customers.

“We’re not trying to hurt the bottom line of businesses. Businesses can sign up and ask their clients to voluntarily donate 1 per cent on top of what they’re paying…People are paying a lot of money to come here and some of that should go towards stewardship. We’re trying to collaborate with the tourists that value coming to a clean and well-serviced area.”

The program is currently helping to fund patrols by Tribal Park Guardians as well as checkpoints set up to prevent COVID-19 from spreading into vulnerable First Nation communities.

Masso said stronger participation in the program could lead to additional funding for resources like sewage treatment and healthcare services.

READ MORE: Tofino will miss sewage treatment deadline, seeks more funding

“It’s one of our goals to reopen our eel grass to herring and our clam beds again or contributing to the healthcare system so that we can open a maternity wing again and bear children in our homeland, which directly hits at more hospital beds and mitigates one of our concerns of being overwhelmed in our healthcare system,” he said. “In the long run, if 1 per cent were being donated from industries in Clayoquot Sound, we would have enough to contribute to the healthcare system and make a more robust economy and more resilient region.”

READ MORE: Tofino pushing for new hospital

So far, roughly 37 businesses have signed up for the program, but a call out by the Nation in July did not yield the buy-in that was hoped for.

“We know it’s busy, but there is a disappointment…It does beg the question, would more businesses have signed on if we had remained closed?” Masso said.

“All the leaders regionally talk about building back better and talk about building back to overcome crises such as these and having a more resilient health care system et cetera and this should have been part of reopening…It shouldn’t have just been words, it should have been action. We’d been closed for four months when we should have been eyes open to how to build back better and we see this tool as one of the tools needed to build back better.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation asks Tofino businesses for support as emergency funding runs dry

Masso added that the disrespect being shown by some visitors to the region is “saddening and disappointing” and he noted the impacts of those irresponsible behaviours underline the need for more robust stewardship and guardianship.

“It just highlights that we’re under-resourced…We need a regular presence for education and outreach in our backroads and on our beaches,” he said. “As Canadians, you would hope that if you found a quiet place in the forest, you would leave it as you found it and that’s not the case. We’re finding propane tanks and tarps and abandoned lawn chairs and tents that are broken after a weekend and left amongst all the litter and cans and bottles and garbage, it’s just a tremendous amount of refuse.”

Masso said participants in the program would help contribute to a “healthy and beautiful Clayoquot Sound,” by empowering Tribal Park Guardians with more resources.

“We open our homeland to the millions of tourists a year and to do that we need these tools to be able to continue to be open safely,” he said. “We think that businesses would understand that and that we’re symbiotically linked. We’re opening our territories, but we’re trying to minimize the risk and everyone has a role in helping that; helping the success of bringing tourism, but also the success of resourcing the Tribal Park Allies program.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet RCMP increase patrol at Kennedy watershed

Anyone wanting to participate in the program is encouraged to reach out to Tribal Park Allies liaison Julian Hockin-Grant at alliedcertifications@pm.me or 250 228 8526.

Marcel Zobel of Tofino’s Treehouse Gift Company and Selkies Coastal Creations signed both his businesses up for the program last week.

“The programs that they’re looking to do are what people are asking for, more oversight, more guardianship of the territory and I think they’re the perfect people for that. Being able to recognize that and support that is not really a tough decision,” Zobel told the Westerly.

“They’re not asking for us to take it out of our bottom line, they’re just asking us to put a 1 per cent fee on.”

He added the program is a valuable opportunity towards putting action to reconciliation.

“It’s about putting it into action and recognizing the harms that the First Nations have suffered and doing something to help empower, repair and recognize all the good work that they do and support them with it.”

We’re excited to welcome our newest members of the Tribal Parks Alliance! Today we signed a protocol agreement with…

Posted by Tribal Parks Allies on Tuesday, September 1, 2020



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Ty-Histanis resident frustrated by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve reopening

READ MORE: Tofino residents pumped up by perceived lack of bylaw enforcement

READ MORE: COVID-19: Ucluelet local frustrated by lax protocols as tourism reopens

CoronavirusFirst NationsTofino,Tourism

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

Just Posted

The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Most Read