Steeped in nature and history, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is well-known for its ancient rainforests, abundant wildlife and picturesque beaches. Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, this park is open year-round and welcomes visitors from all over the world to enjoy its environmental beauty and pristine West Coast landscapes.
Now, Parks Canada, in collaboration with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, have unveiled a brand-new multi-use pathway designed to provide visitors with a new way to connect with nature. Named ʔapsčiik t̓ašii (pronounced “ups-cheek ta-shee”) this new 25-kilometre trail spans the length of the park’s Long Beach Unit, winding through lush forests, salmon-bearing streams and past breathtaking ocean views.
Located in the ḥaḥuułi, the traditional territories and homelands of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, ʔapsčiik t̓ašii provides access to many points of interest while its relatively flat surface makes the trail easy to navigate.
Translating to “going the right direction on the path”, ʔapsčiik t̓ašii was named by Elders who provided guidance throughout the project and contributed to the success of the opening. Working together with Parks Canada, both Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and YuułuɁiłɁ carefully selected the course of ʔapsčiik t̓ašii and ensured the building of the pathway was completed appropriately with agency provided by Elders from both First Nations. This collaborative approach allowed each partner to share valuable knowledge about the cultural heritage, ecology and topography of the area.
On June 28, 2022, John Aldag, Member of Parliament for Cloverdale—Langley City, on behalf of the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, walked together with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ on ʔapsčiik t̓ašii. During this time, those involved participated in a special ceremony to thank individuals who contributed their expertise in helping to construct the pathway while also welcoming visitors to the natural and cultural wonders of the area. Through the Federal Infrastructure Investment Program, this project is the result of close to $51 million in funding.
“Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation have worked with Parks Canada in the construction of the new pathway that will connect visitors and local residents with the culture and beauty of the Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory, says Chief Elmer Frank of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in statement “We are hopeful that this collaborative project will provide economic, educational, and recreational opportunities for all the parties involved. It is our hope that this beautiful trail will symbolize the benefits and achievements that were made by working collaboratively together to achieve common goals.”
To minimize environmental and cultural impacts, ʔapsčiik t̓ašii avoids the dens of high-use wildlife areas and has added swing gates to entry points to allow immediate safety closures, if necessary. Clear signage is also posted to educate visitors on safety and prevention practices around wildlife. Part of the process included traditional-use studies in order to protect important cultural sites.
ʔapsčiik t̓ašii was designed to be used by all visitors. With two lanes and approximately three meters wide, there is ample room for visitors who are walking, pushing strollers or riding bikes to share the path. Although the pathway is accessible for most of the 25-km distance, there are some areas with steeper inclines, indicated on the map, which may not be recommended for visitors using mobility aids. Parks Canada recommends parking at the Combers Beach parking lot where the is accessible parking and easy entry to the pathway.
Parks Canada worked together with an Elders Working Group throughout the ʔapsčiik t̓ašii project, to ensure that planning, development and building of the multi-use trail was done in a respectful way. An integral part of the project’s success was thanks to the support and involvement of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ. This collaboration ensures that the pathway provides a complete cultural experience for all visitors to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.