With a passion for the outdoors and a cultural curiosity, it didn’t take long for me to be claimed by the beauty of Tofino, Clayoquot Sound and our UNESCO biosphere
reserve. This is an iconic place in Canada, but the way to see the natural beauty is really though the communities and people that live and work in this environment everyday. The focus here is on how we as communities can live in this place sustainably -recognizing the Nuu-chah-nulth history and their traditional approach to sustainable development, while also embracing a biosphere approach to conservation.
In the summer of 2000, I moved to Tofino for what I thought would be a short adventure. The unique environment and connection to a welcoming social scene gave me an opportunity to experience a different kind of community from the one I grew up in. It was clear I didn’t want to leave anytime soon. I was captured by this unique place and became a sea kayaking guide by turning a hobby into a livelihood.
Through this work on the water, volunteering with local organizations and conducting communitybased research in partnership with the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT) I have learned a lot about how we live in our region and how community plays an important role in living sustainably.
Today I’ve grown into a role with the CBT as a managing director. As one of Canada’s 191 community foundations we are always looking for opportunities for our communities to work together on a regional scale.
Guided by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations philosophy of ‘everything is one’, the CBT supports a range of scientific, educational and community initiatives that focus on the interconnections between people and the ecosystems we live in.
Since moving to the West Coast more than a decade ago I have set down roots, but my work is far from finished. As communities we know we can be better -it’s that aspirational sense we share to be a vital place. The people that are born here choose to live here, and those who vacation often feel compelled to stay just as I did. If we work together we can achieve amazing things for our communities and the environment.
Rebecca Hurwitz is executive director of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust