Guardians of the trail

Parks Canada, first nations celebrate 20-year relationship on West Coast Trail.

Danna Jones of the Pacheedaht First Nation talks with hiker Wei-Quin Wong

Kevin Peters can’t stop grinning when he talks about the last 15 years he has spent as a First Nations Guardian of the West Coast Trail.

‘“It’s fun. You meet a lot of cool people, the work is very interesting,” said Peters, a member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation who oversees the 25 kilometres of Huu-ay-aht territory on the trail.

Peters and dozens of other guardians, both past and present, were celebrated at a ceremony Friday at the Alberni Athletic Hall.

The guardians program was set up 20 years ago as a partnership between the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht first nations, whose territory the 75-kilometre-long West Coast Trail traverses. Each nation is responsible for 25 kilometres.

(story continues below)

Guardians keep the trail clear, offer first aid and information to travellers, but most importantly share their culture and history of the land.

“The agreement is more than what is says on paper,” says Huu-ay-aht Chief Derek Peters, whose late father Spencer was the signatory on the original agreement.

“What this agreement does is acknowledges the territory and the nations that live in the territories. That’s a really respectful thing. It allows us to educate the world about who we are and we get to meet the world.”

Karen Haugen worked with Parks Canada for 12 years before joining the Huu-ay-aht earlier this month. She was the manager responsible for implementing the guardian program with Parks Canada.

The guardians do much more than keep the trail safe, says Haugen: they enrich travellers’ experiences.

“They arrive to make a 75-kilometre adventurous hike but they leave with pieces of Canadian history by hearing about the land from the traditional guardians.

“It’s not the bridge system or the beauty they remember, it’s that personal connection that makes it the most memorable visit to our country.”

Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle presented Jeff Jones (Pacheedaht), Jack Thompson Sr. (Ditidaht) and Derek Peters (Huu-ay-aht) with the CEO’s award of excellence on Friday.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Cougars spotted in Sproat Lake neighbourhoods

ACRD director warns residents to keep children, pets close

Who are the Frozen Franklins? Find out at the Alberni Valley Museum

The museum and Echoes in the Ice exhibit are open April 20 during Easter weekend

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read