|Qualicum Beach, BC|
|YEARS IN INDUSTRY||
|FISHERIES||Pacific Halibut by Hook and Line Sablefish (Black Cod) by Longlines Spot Prawn by Trap|
I fish for a number of First Nation bands on the west coast of Vancouver Island. One of which being Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation located in the tourist town of Tofino, BC.
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (formerly referred to as the Clayoquot), are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation in Canada. They live on ten reserves along the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They are part of the Nootka Confederacy and governed by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. There were 618 people living in the Tla-o-qui-aht reserves in 1995. Their primary economic activities are fishing and tourism. Clayoquot Sound is located on the western coast of Vancouver Island, north of Tofino.
Tla-o-qui-aht, whose Ancestral border is determined by the 'height of land, the direction of the rivers flow and as far as the eye can see on the ocean, is a confederacy of aboriginal groups who historically were independent from one another. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations is the ‘Indian Band’ mandated under the Federal Indian Act to deliver civil and human services to Tla-o-qui-aht. The hereditary governance systems and structures of Tla-o-qui-aht that exist today, and that have existed since time immemorial have a dynamic relationship with the Indian Band administration and with the general population of Tla-o-qui-aht. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation resides on two separate reserves, one on Meares Island (Opitsaht) and the other at Esowista, surrounded by Pacific Rim National Park. A reserve expansion is planned for the Esowista site. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (TFN) has been very active in economic development. The keystone to understanding Tla-o-qui-aht history is understanding what the term Tla-o-qui-aht means. The following translation/interpretation was developed based on conversations with various Tla-o-qui-aht elders (including Mary Hayes and Dixon Sam Mitt, among others), fluent speakers, master craftsmen, seasoned politicians and those who participated in the exhaustive community consultation that was implemented by Tla-o-qui-aht during the Meares Island court case.
Tla-o-qui-aht is the confederation of historic native groups that once lived all around the lake system called Ha-ooke-min. Tla-o-qui-aht has been translated to mean “different people.” However, it means much more than that. To begin with, aht means 'from or of', and tla-o-qui is a place in Clayoquot Sound presently known as Clayoqua. In this way Tla-o-qui-aht can be understood to mean the “people from Clayoqua.”
This understanding of Tla-o-qui-aht speaks of the history of our people dating back to the early to mid-17th century. As mentioned, in former times, our ancestors were in fact not one tribe, but many small tribes and family groups who lived all around Ha-ooke-min, which is now known as Kennedy Lake and which is where Tla-o-qui is located.
The defining event that changed the face of Tla-o-qui-aht forever is eternalized in the name of the Esowista Peninsula. The war of Esowista was a Great War that Tla-o-qui-aht engaged in as a single force. The people who once lived on the peninsula from Long Beach to Tofino and further north had kept tight control of ocean resources and had made it a common practice to raid the sleepy fishing villages of Ha-ooke-min to take slaves and other commodities. In our language Esowista means “clubbed to death.”
Tla-o-qui-aht maintained their presence in this part of the Sound through to first contact with Europeans in the late 18th century. In summary, Tla-o-qui-aht, different people, are the people from Tla-o-qui; they are a confederation of many different smaller groups who once lived a very different lifestyle at Ha-ooke-min.
The main features of the Tla-o-qui-aht historical socio-political system include: The ‘fish and fuse’ annual cycle, and Hereditary structure and social mobility. The fish-and-fuse annual cycle characterizes the historical Tla-o-qui-aht hereditary socio-political system as akin to a watershed management system. Generally, in the spring, summer and fall months the community would be spread, like fish, throughout the territory to gather stores of resources and to prepare clothing and other wares. During the winter the fusion would happen with wedding ceremonies, coming of age ceremonies and other significant social-political events that would reshape the political landscape for the following gathering seasons. Sometimes these shifts would result in the reallocation of watershed management rites.
The Tla-o-qui-aht (TFN) has been very active in economic development. They own and operate TinWis Resort, and have launched a tourism-booking center owned by their Economic Development Corporation. The Nation boasts several successful tourism, artist/carver and small business entrepreneurs. They are actively involved in expanding their community housing with a significant reserve expansion situated adjacent to Pacific Rim Provincial Park and they are working towards the establishment of a tribal park in the Kennedy Lake watershed that will "marry" economic development and environmental protection in this part of their territory. In 2008 the Nation also signed a protocol with the District of Tofino to work collaboratively towards planned development on the north end of the peninsula where several large parcels of crown land are under discussion. Like several other Nations, some TFN members (six to eight) are still involved in the fishing industry including spawn-on-kelp, and commercial salmon and halibut fishing.