V. I. Spine Trail respects First Nations traditional territories

In the process of designing and constructing a multi-use, non-motorized trail from Victoria to Cape Scott on Vancouver Island, the Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association (VISTA) invariably crosses land which is part of the traditional territories of First Nations.  The intention of VISTA is that the trail will ultimately benefit First Nations as well as other citizens of Vancouver Island, and will attract tourists from outside the Island. There will be benefits to local citizens directly, and to any organization that wishes to support tourism as well.

Early on, the Board of VISTA made a decision to limit the amount of work on trails on traditional areas to planning and flagging only, with detailed trail construction and clearing to occur only after support of the project is indicated by the appropriate First Nation.

In initial sections of the VI Spine trail work in 2011, contacts were made with the Ditidaht First Nation prior to work on the Tuck Lake Trail west of Cowichan lake. We requested information on any archaeological sites or cultural values of the land traversed.  Later, we worked with the Tseshaht First Nation to connect our trail to the Runners Trail (constructed in 2012), and carried out trail maintenance subsequent to that time.

In the current plans for trails in the north part of Vancouver Island, we are working with the ‘Namgis, and Kwakiutl First Nations, and with the Nanwakolus Council which comprises several First Nations. The VISTA Board believes that a cooperative approach will result in a good working relationship, and shared values and benefits from the VI Spine Trail.

Gil Parker, President VISTA

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