GeoWorld November 2012

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I n spring 2012, a camera team from CloverPoint, under the direction of filmmaker Brian Park, spent two days at the House of Huu-ay-aht in Anacla, British Columbia, Canada, with members of the Huuay-aht First Nations. The village bears the name of the sole survivor of a massive earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the entire Huu-ay-aht settlement in 1700. The crew was filming a short documentary about how the Huu-ay-aht, having reclaimed portions of their traditional lands, were implementing a cuttingedge land-registry system unlike anything developed before. This highly visual system would leverage the nation's years of work invested into mapping the region's biologically and culturally sensitive areas to unlock the wealth of their lands. Through responsible management and stewardship, the Huu-ay-aht government endeavors to revitalize its economy and rebuild a community that had long been displaced by natural disaster and colonial politics. What began as a mid-week professional curiosity soon became an adventure into the heart of a small community committed to transcending adversity. At its center was the inspiring story of the Huu-ay-aht people committed to restoring their reclaimed lands and culture. What the team witnessed during its stay suggested that the confluence of traditional Huu-ay-aht philosophy with modern technology will ensure a bright future for the region. The team had been invited to stay with Huu-ay-aht Master Carver Ed Johnson, and would be led by Larry Johnson, director of Lands and Natural Resources. the film crew before sunrise to experience the dawn creeping over Pachena Cone and gently pulling at the fog that had blanketed the valley as everyone slept. Being located on the wild and beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island, it's no wonder why the Huu-ay-aht culture would be so intimately linked with the surrounding forests and waters. Visitors to the area often are struck by the palpable feelings of being merely tiny elements of an unimaginably large and truly awesome ecosystem. For city-dwellers such as the CloverPoint camera team, the environment was strangely comforting, yet demanding of respect. Not surprisingly, this sentiment echoes what Larry Johnson explained to be two important Huu-ay-aht philosophical principles: Iisaak (ee-sock) and Hishuk Tsawak (heh-shook sah-wock). "Iisaak is interpreted as 'respect' these days, but it's much more than that," he explains. "It's a way of life; it's how you carry yourself; it's how you want people to treat you. "The word Hishuk Tsawak means everything is connected, and what you do here will impact over there," continues Larry Johnson. "So, when you combine those two philosophies, you come up with, to me, what it means to be a Huu-ay-aht—what it means to be connected to our land and resources." Although most of us have stood up on the soapbox at one time or another to declare how we would lead our country, few have ever earned the opportunity to The Huu-ay-aht First Nations Anacla (formerly Anacla Reserve) lies in Pachena Bay at the head of the world-renowned West Coast Trail, approximately 12 kilometers south of the Bamfield Marine Station on the west coast of Vancouver Island. "We are based in Barkley Sound," noted Larry Johnson. "From Coleman Creek all the way to Cape Beale down the coast of Vancouver Island to Suziette Waterfalls … and out as far as the North Wind blows: that's the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations." The Huu-ay-aht are one of five of the neighboring Maa-nulth Nations, and one of 14 Nuu-chah-nulth (meaning "all along the mountains and sea") Nations on Vancouver Island. Larry Johnson, whose traditional name is Aniitsachist (ah-neet-sah-ch-ist), meaning "Keeper of the Sea," woke Government Special Issue The village of Anacla straddles the Pachena River as it joins the Pacific on the west coast of Vancouver Island. N O V E M B E R 2 O 1 2 / W W W . G E O P L A C E . C O M 23

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