This group stood in solidarity to protect Meares Island old growth forest from logging in 1984. They came together again for a nostalgic photo during a 35th anniversary celebration on April 19 at the Best Western Tin Wis. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Tla-o-qui-aht and Tofino celebrate 35th anniversary of the Meares Island Tribal Park Declaration

“I remember so vividly that day we all stood up and said, ‘No.’”

The 35th anniversary of the Meares Island Tribal Park Declaration of 1984 was celebrated over the Easter long weekend.

Chief Moses Martin, elected Chief of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, was also the elected chief 35 years ago.In April 1984, he declared Meares Island in Clayoquot Sound near Tofino a “Tribal Park” during a blockade to stop Canadian forestry company MacMillan Bloedel from logging the area’s ancient forests.

“35 years ago. It seems like yesterday. I remember so vividly that day we all stood up and said, ‘No,’” Martin told the audience at a community potluck event hosted by the Best Western Tin Wis on Friday evening.

“We need to continue to do that,” he said. “We need to support each other in trying to protect this beautiful place that we call home.”

As a result of the Tribal Park Declaration of 1984, the old-growth forest that exists on Meares Island remains standing to this day and protected for future generations.

READ: Pipeline protests spur memories of Clayoquot protests for Tofino and Ucluelet locals

Michael Mullin, a longtime Tofino resident and the founder of the environmental advocacy group Friends of Clayoquot Sound, gave a speech during Friday’s celebration. Mullin took part in the anti-logging protests and was there for the birth of the historical Tribal Park Declaration.

“This Tribal Park vision should be a model for the entire region. With climate change upon us, the worst thing we can be doing is be cutting down forests,” said Mullin. “It has become very clear that enlightened [Indigenous] stewardship, control of the land, is always the best hope for the future. People who know who they are, know where they live, know where their ancestors come from, are always going to be better for their region than people who either invade or extract resources for profit.”

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s natural resources manager Saya Masso told the crowd that Tribal Parks is a vision for Tla-o-qui-aht territory, which includes creating space for old growth, salmon restoration, and cultural gathering areas.

“We need to get value for trees standing,” Masso said. “Tourism as an economic industry is ‘in’. We can’t have countervailing pressures to log, or to have unsustainable land use that goes against tourists’ wishes. As First Nations that are landowners and trying to guide the land vision, it’s in our economic interests to come together to help deliver it.”

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

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne was invited to speak at the celebration.

“This community couldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for the work of the people in this room and so many others who have fought and who have passionately advocated for the ways that we need to be in synergy with this land,” said Osborne.

She reflected on the totem pole raising ceremony that took place in downtown Tofino in September to honour First Nations Chiefs.

VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht totem pole raised in Tofino

“That ceremony, and what happened that evening and that afternoon, has really changed the tone and the nature of the conversation that we have at the Tofino council table, and I think that maybe that’s unique in Canada.”

“I want to see the two communities work together and be able to achieve things that we haven’t been able to in the past,” said Osborne, adding that she felt really privileged to be the mayor of a community that exists within a Tribal Park on traditional Tla-o-qui-aht territory.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Port Alberni language pole becomes ‘spiritual journey’

Funding shortfall could prove to be saving grace for project

Fines bring an end to Tofino’s controversial Poole’s Land community

Michael Poole is selling the roughly 20-acre property.

CARE column: Cold winter season terrifying for stray cats

Kittens Starsky and Hutch will have a warm foster home this winter.

Tofino’s top engineer leaves district amidst massive sewage treatment project

District office currently working through $60 million sewage treatment plant

VIDEO: Remembrance Day in Ucluelet

Town gathers at Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Club for Remembrance Day ceremony.

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain

Upper Nicola Band says deal represents a ‘significant step forward’

VIDEO: B.C. man trapped under ATV for days shows promise at Victoria hospital

Out of induced coma, 41-year-old is smiling, squeezing hands and enjoying sunshine

Most Read