Joan Boxalls's poem on fracking
Nuu-Chah-Nulth Green Homes in BC
As a result of a visioning exercise in 2008 organized by Ecotrust Canada, five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations have agreed on one common need across Clayoquot Sound: improved housing. The Qwii-qwiq-sap (pronounced Quay-quick-sup in the Nuu-chah-nulth language and meaning ‘transformation’), ‘Standing Tree to Standing Home’ initiative is a direct response to that shared need.
Co-managed by Tla-oqui- aht, Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, YuutuɁitɁaht and Toquaht First Nations, together with Ecotrust Canada and the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program, Qwii-qwiq-sap focuses on building the conservation economy by empowering communities to define and create their own circles of wealth.
Through the thoughtful integration of forest management, community design, value-added production, alternative technology development, construction and training, the initiative demonstrates how we can achieve the ideal of getting direct local benefits from regional resource extraction and use.
The Circle of Wealth
The five participating Nations are trying to solve the riddle of how to create jobs, social wealth and environmental health from resources in their territories. Resources that historically have been harvested to benefit far-away interests first. As the Ahousaht people explain the circle of wealth concept, “Step One is thoughtfully designing our forest practice so we can grow what we need. Step Two is harvesting timbers with our own building needs in mind. Step Three is designing our homes so they address our climate and cultural needs and so they make use of the products we know we can produce on the land. And Step Four is training our own people to manage the full cycle of activity, from forestry to construction so we gain ground at every level.”
Based on this principle, Qwii-qwiq-sap proposes a very different approach. The initiative will design homes with a view to weather, culture and energy efficiency. Architects and designers will incorporate materials and products that are locally available. The Nations will deploy their saw mills and artisans to produce value-added products to meet design specs. Timber harvesting will be targeted to produce logs for local housing. And on-site training programs will be introduced to ensure that local residents are able to compete successfully for the full range of associated employment opportunities.
Qwii-qwiq-sap is indicative of a unique kind of social innovation embedded in the cultural traditions of the Nuuchah- nulth First Nations. Based on old and tested principles such as ‘take only what you need’ and ‘allow community values to dictate development.’
Ecotrust Canada has partnered with experts in industry, environment and community and we and the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program continue to work with our partners to seek the funding needed to deliver the training required.