The Story of Opitsaht

The 35 year anniversary celebration of Meares Island Tribal Park is about honouring and celebrating what has been achieved. More importantly, the celebrations are about mobilizing a story of hope that it is possible to do the right thing. Meares Island Tribal Park, Clayoquot Sound and all the work that’s been done in those areas over the last 35 years are a beacon of hope, showing that it is possible to protect ancient ecosystems while simultaneously creating resilient economies.

Meares Island and Village of Opitsaht

Meares Island and Village of Opitsaht

In honour of the anniversary, the IISAAK OLAM Foundation is building awareness, raising the funds and bringing in energy to rebuild the Village of Opitsaht. The Village of Opitsaht took a major toll in the pre-confederation years of the country that today we know as Canada. Between 1792 and 1811 there was a 20 year open conflict with the newly formed United States of America and there were a variety of different points of conflict. One of the most dramatic was the bombardment and burning of the ancient and monumental Village of Opitsaht which at the time, in 1792, had over 200 longhouses of monumental construction scale; each house could house over 100 people and the largest longhouse was Wickaninnish house which could house 1000 people.

Now it is time to rebuild the Village of Opitsaht. The people of Opitsaht are the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice and are still making sacrifices today by denying themselves the opportunity to clear cut old growth in order to maintain the natural resource for unborn generations. The cost benefit to that is the people of Opitsaht live in poverty – a lot of people do not experience the wealth and benefits of Tofino and the municipality of Tofino, which has experienced a lot of growth and wealth development.

Rebuilding the Village of Opitsaht, means making it energy self sufficient, addressing mold concerns, having proper infrastructure, updating infrastructure, building housing, and mitigating erosion and the impacts of climate change, which Indigenous peoples have contributed to the least but are feeling the consequences the most at this point in time.


To make a donation supporting the rebuilding of Opitsaht and the Meares Island 35 Year Anniversary campaign, visit our Gofundme page.

For more information on the Meares Island 35 Year Anniversary, visit Meares35.ca

Learn more about Tribal Parks and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.