Adobe Flash Player.
[Parks Canada beaver logo]
[totem pole flashes onscreen to music]
[title: Walking in our Ancestors’ Footsteps]
[a wooden boardwalk snakes through a rainforest]
Jack Thompson, Chief Councillor, Ditidaht First Nations: Welcome to the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht, the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations. As you walk the West Coast Trail you will experience our rich culture, our rich history. These lands that you walk on, we have lived here since time immemorial and will continue to do so into the future.
[a map shows traditional First Nations territories of the west coast of Vancouver Island]
JT: The West Coast Trail Unit lies within the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations.
[canoes, murals and ancient artwork sit in a museum]
JT: They have lived along Vancouver Island’s west coast for countless generations. Ancient trails and paddling routes were used for trade and travel by first nations long before foreign sailing ships reached this region over 200 years ago.
[old photographs and newspaper clippings show rescue missions of shipwrecks from the West Coast Trail area]
Carl Edgar, Ditidaht First Nations, Water Taxi Owner: One story that doesn’t get out about the West Coast Trail, before it became for leisure hiking it was a lifesaving trail. Shipwrecks were shipwrecked about every half a mile along the whole west coast of the island.
[a fire crackles warmly]
CE: When the shipwrecked people were stranded on a beach, our people lived there, and they looked after them when they took them in, they fed them, gave them a warm place to stay. Gave them warm clothes and then sent them on their way on the life saving trail.
[First Nations men sing while beating a drum. Parks Canada staff and First Nations people chat around a warm campfire]
Parks Canada, the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations work collaboratively to ensure the protection, preservation and presentation of these lands.
[a pair from the First Nations maintenance crew hike the West Coast Trail and give directions to a hiker]
Gordon Planes, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve: When hikers are on the trail, they may see the interpreters and maintenance crew from all three nations doing their work. Usually they spend a lot of time hiking the trail, interacting with the hikers.
[A sign tells hikers they are entering Ditidaht Tribe Reserve Lands. A private cabin residence sits among the trees of the West Coast Trail.]
CE: And here we are at Tsuquadra, we had to build some guardian cabins so our workers could come out here to protect our heritage sites out here and give interpretive stories to the hikers who hike on the West Coast Trail so they can understand our culture more and what they’re walking through.
[First Nations Interpreters chat with hikers and work to clear the trail from a fallen tree]
Loonie Nookemus, Huu-ay-aht First Nation’s Guardian: It’s a great feeling to be out here and working in my traditional territory and looking after her as best as I can, so we can have other people come through and appreciate what I appreciate the most about being out here—is the atmosphere, the scenery, you get the killers whales or any whales that pass by, you got eagles soaring, you got wolves and cougars passing through. You get everything that you can think of.
[Carl Edgar sits on top a boardwalk]
CE: We build this boardwalk cause we’re protecting some of our old long house posted beams. Right here is one of our posts and underneath me is a beam. Only a trained eye can recognize them but this is one of about 8 long houses in this little area here.
[two First Nations men help a hiker navigate her way through the West Coast Trail]
GP: When you come across an interpreter or maintenance person, they’re more than happy to come by and help and assist and give you a little bit of information that you might need to get to your next campsite. And then also they’ll give you a perspective on their traditional territories—their old ways of life and the way of their ancestors and living off the land and taking care of mother earth.
[First Nations people dance, sing and beat drums in the sun]
Today, Vancouver Island’s west coast still provides an abundance of resources to local First Nations which supports and sustains their social, cultural and economic livelihood.
[Carl strolls along a beach as waves crash onto the shore]
CE: But it’s nice out there. I’ve been out there for 30 years. I’ve met the 3rd generation of hikers now. I’ve met the grandsons. They hiked with their fathers 25 years ago. So it’s really something to see the evolution of the trail and I’m still there and I’m going to be there until I can’t walk anymore.
[totem pole stands proudly in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve]
Nadine Crookes, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve: The Nuu-Chah-Nulth have no word for wild or wilderness. There’s only home. And that’s the basic philosophy of Nuu-Chah-Nulth people. And that’s how we live on the landscape.
[title: You're watching a series of videos on]
[title: The West Coast Trail]
[title: Parks Canada/Parcs Canada government logo]
[title: Copyright - Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2010]
[title: Government of Canada logo]
Walking in our Ancestors’ Footsteps
The West Coast Trail is one of 3 units within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This rugged 75km hike through what was once a telegraph line trail and lifesaving route for shipwrecked mariners passes through the traditional territories of the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations. Come experience the rich history and culture of the First Nations as you hike the breathtaking West Coast Trail.
Parks Canada... Real. Inspiring.