Tradition Transcending Time
The Toquaht Nation is a self-governing First Nation situated on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in Barkley Sound. Known as the t̓uk̓ʷaaʔatḥ (Toquaht People), we are a resilient community dedicated to the development of our Nation. Our primary focus is to honour the teachings of our ancestors and safeguard our ḥaḥuułi (traditional territory).
Our History, Land, and Identity
Our ancestral lands encompass Toquaht Bay, Mayne Bay, and Macoah Passage, which are located in the western region of Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island. These lands have sustained the t̓uk̓ʷaaʔatḥ since time immemorial.
Our decision to settle along the coastline was driven by our desire to reunite our people, revitalize our culture, and reconnect with the land. As wiicackum, taayii ḥaw̓ił (Chief Anne Mack) expresses, “The reason for choosing the land along the coast is so that we can bring our people back home to build up our culture and get back to the land-base.”
A significant landmark that indicated proximity to our territory was ƛ̓ichuuł, a 15-meter rock serving as a boundary marker between the t̓uk̓ʷaaʔatḥ and the yuułuʔiłʔatḥ.
Our main village, m̓aʔaquuʔa (Macoah), is a remote coastal community within our territory and currently home to approximately 40 people. The t̓uk̓ʷaaʔatḥ maintain strong family ties with the nuučaan̓uł (Nuu-chah-nulth) and possess a distinct identity.
Self-Governance and the Maa-nulth Treaty
We share an intrinsic and inseparable connection with one another and the coastal lands on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We consider ourselves hišukʷin c̓awaak (one with the Earth, the air, the sea).
As a small but resilient Nation, we reclaimed self-governance under the Maa-nulth Treaty in 2011. At present, we have approximately 175 masčim (citizens). This Treaty emancipated the t̓uk̓ʷaaʔatḥ from the restrictions imposed by the Indian Act, granting us the ability to shape our future as determined by our masčim. The Toquaht Constitution, provided under the treaty, affords us rights, benefits, and the authority to establish our own laws.
Effective from April 1, 2011, the Maa-nulth Treaty represents the first modern Treaty on Vancouver Island and the initial multi-First Nation treaty in the BC Treaty Process. For more information on our modern treaty, please refer to the Maa-nulth First Nations Treaty.
Before the treaty’s implementation, while still governed by the Indian Act, colonial interference heavily influenced many First Nations, pressuring them to adopt an elected governance system. Despite these pressures, Toquaht remained steadfast, preserving our traditional form of governance, which is led by our ḥaw̓iiḥ (hereditary chiefs). We firmly believed in the preservation of our hereditary system.
Only with the modern treaty did we begin holding elections every four years, while continuing to uphold our ḥaw̓iiḥ. Presently, the Toquaht Government serves as the legislative and executive branch, consisting of five Council members: three elected members, the ḥaw̓ił (chief, noble), and our čaamata (second chief). This transition demonstrates our commitment to honoring our guiding principles and remaining rooted in our traditions—a testament to our “Tradition Transcending Time.”
Currently, our ḥaw̓ił is wiicackum (Anne Mack) and our čaamata (or second chief) is yakawaʔaḥ (Kevin Mack). Our previous ḥaw̓ił, t̓iit̓skiisup (Bert Mack), held the seat from the age of 18 to his passing at age 89 in 2012.