The Toquaht are the people of Toquaht Bay, Mayne Bay and western Barkley Sound, and are one of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations who have lived along Vancouver Island’s west coast for over 10,000 years.
As marine peoples, the Toquaht have always lived in respectful harmony with the sea and coastal environment. Pre-contact, the Toquaht were in a dominant position in western Barkley Sound. Their main summer village was Du Quah, situated at the mouth of Ucluelet Inlet, which was a strategic defense position.
The Toquaht Nation’s cultural focus was on whaling but they were also hunters and gatherers. Salmon was foremost in fishing, along with sea mammals and shellfish.
The Toquaht people relied heavily on red and yellow cedar. It was used to house and clothe the population. Large canoes were carved for whaling and fishing, as well as moving the community from one village site to another at different times of the year. Cedar was also used in basket weaving and box making to store everything from personal possessions to food and hunting gear. Planks were pulled off living cedars for house construction. Cedar bark was used in making clothing and mats for house floors. Berries, shoots and camus bulbs were gathered in the spring and summer.Having been greatly impacted by disease and warfare throughout the 19th century, the Toquaht Nation is now one of the smallest Nations within the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC). Despite its small size, they have been a leader within the NTC and the Central Region First Nations through active political leadership, business initiatives, cultural events, and as a proponent of the Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement. Implemented on April 1, 2011, it is the second treaty to be implemented under the BC treaty process.
About 20 people live in the Toquaht Nation’s main community of Macoah, which is accessible off Highway 4 along Kennedy Lake. The rest of the citizens live in Ucluelet, Port Alberni and other cities in the Northwest.
For more information about the Toquaht Nation, visit www.toquaht.ca.