Culture and history

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The land | The people

The land

A hiker looks out over the water on a misty day. They are standing on a driftwood-covered beach along the West Coast Trail.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, nestled in the ḥaḥuułi (traditional territories) of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, tells a story of those who have lived here for generations.

Nuu-chah-nulth, or “along the mountains and sea,” refers to the territories along the 300 km stretch of Vancouver Island’s west coast - from Brooks Peninsula in the north to Point-no-Point in the south, and to the Vancouver Island Range in the east.

The rich waters and towering rainforests of this coastline have supported the social, cultural and economic well-being of the Nuu-chah-nulth people since time immemorial.

The Nuu-chah-nulth people

Each nation has its own birthplace and creation mythology. The oral traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth tell of a people who were born from this very land and have made their home here for centuries.

Historically, the Nuu-chah-nulth were not united as one people but were divided into distinct family or local groups. Each group shared aspects of a language, tradition and culture centered around a ḥaw̓ił (hereditary chief) and lived off the resources of their ḥaaḥuułi (traditional territories).

Today, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations are composed of 14 individual nations. Each has an elected Chief and Council, as well as ḥaw̓iiḥ (hereditary chiefs). Their culture remains firmly rooted in the land and coastal waters of their ancestry.

The economic, spiritual and social connections to the rainforest, shoreline and ocean may have evolved, but they remain the cornerstones of this enduring west-coast culture.

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