Paddling Clayoquot Sound with Tsimka Martin
A story by Sami and Tara from Quest University.
Tsimka Martin owns and operates the T’ashii Paddle School based in Tofino. As a culture-nature tourism provider and guide, she hopes to enrich client experiences by educating visitors about the profound interconnections between the histories and contemporary realities of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the landscapes of Clayoquot Sound.
Tsimka’s own story is rooted in Clayoquot Sound. She was born here in 1984, the same year that Meares Island was declared a Tribal Park by her uncle, Moses Martin. Her father, Joe Martin, is a Tla-o-qui-aht elder, and her mother is a Quebecois environmentalist. So, in many ways, Tsimka is a child of the intersections of indigenous sovereignty and environmental movement that the declaration spurred.
“I’ve lived here for pretty much my whole life,” Tsimka tells us. Her values are evident in the way she runs her business. Part of her self-imposed mandate is a commitment to providing mentoring and meaningful employment opportunities for Nuu-chah-nulth people to (re)connect to their cultures and landscapes.
On a perfectly blue day, we met Tsimka at her office at Jamie’s Whaling Station. She handed us hand-carved paddles that were soft from years of use, and together, we paddled a long dugout canoe made by her father. As we paddled, Tsimka told us stories of the Tla-o-qui-aht people and their whale hunting ventures at sea. Immersed in Tla-o-qui-aht territory, we learned about the land as we travelled through it.
When we stepped ashore on Meares Island, Tsimka led us along a boardwalk, pointing out eagles and salamander eggs in the stream. She guided us through the forest with stories that taught respect for the land and the Nuu-chah-nulth people who have lived here for millenia.
In this video, Tsimka discusses the motivations and values behind her business.
At the end of our day with Tsimka, we walked away with an appreciation of the Tla-o-qui-aht way of living with the land. Our day with Tsimka helped us to realize the importance of Indigenous-led tourism and treading lightly on the land. To learn more about Tsimka and the T'ashii Paddle School, or to book a trip, please visit their website at TofinoPaddle.com .