Tla-ook Cultural Adventures is an experience not to be missed. If you are venturing all the way out to Tofino, BC for it’s beauty and atmosphere than you have to go that little extra distance to Meares Island in Clayoquot Sound; but you’ll have to go there by canoe!
Gisele Martin and her husband run Tla-ook Cultural Adventures. It’s an award winning tourism business but it runs far deeper than just tourism. They do interpretive cultural walks through old growth cedar forests in several places including Meares Island, and in the process they pass onto you a wealth of fantastic information about their indigenous cultural and heritage. You can tell through their passion and knowledge that they are proud of who they are and where they come from. And as an added bonus to their tours they have you paddle to the island in traditional dug-out canoes, hand carved by Nuu-chah-nulth master carvers Joe, Bill and Carl Martin, all family relatives of Gisele. From start to finish it is a moving experience that helps remind you of the incredible beauty and power of Mother Nature, the importance of the Canadian First Nations cultures and how liberating it is to forget about modern technology for an afternoon!
The tours that Gisele and her family offer are magical. In their own words, Tla-ook Cultural Adventures mission is simple: “to share with our guests the beauty of Nuu-chah-nulth Culture and the environment in which it flourished.” Simple though it sounds there are thousands of years of history, culture and knowledge implied in that mission statement!
The GCAT crew’s afternoon with Gisele on Meares Island was enchanting. We followed a wooden boardwalk through the ancient cedar forest craning our heads back to look up hundreds of feet towards the tops of towering old growth cedars (largest cedar trees in Canada!). Some are as old as 2000 years and feel as if they have spirits of their own breathing out from behind their thick bark. The sun filtered through the forest canopy leaving beams of sunlight streaming through the air. Moss hung down from branches and huge elephant firms, mushrooms and all sorts of other plants filled the forest floor like an exotic botanical garden. We took all of this beauty in as Gisele regaled us with stories of her culture and ancestry.
Canada is blessed with a diversity of traditional cultures. From the French to the Inuit to the First Nations the cultural landscape of our country is vibrant and wide ranging. It is a privilege to enjoy and learn about. When you travel to Tofino on Vancouver Island be sure to book a tour with Gisele at Tla-ook Cultural Adventures. It will be a highlight of your trip.