Earlier this year in April, Vancouver Island North applied for Whale Heritage Site status from the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA). It is an international initiative to recognize how the people in the area protect and celebrate these intelligent sea creatures through sustainable practices, education, research, arts and cultural events. A designated Whale Heritage Site ensures that human and animal communities coexist in the same space in a respectful way and at the highest standard.
Since k’awat’si Tours leads whale watching tours, WCA interviewed Davis Henderson, Tourism Coordinator for KEDC and Sherry Baumgardner, business and marketing consultant to KEDC, about the value of the certification for KEDC last week. The accreditation is important to KEDC and to this region because of our cultural connection with whales since the beginning of our ‘Nakwaxda’xw peoples. The animals are a large part of our history and the stories we tell about being performers, protectors and guides. We are very lucky to live in one of the world’s first ecological reserves for whales and have a responsibility to make sure that we support research to better understand the way the whales and dolphins teach, learn, grieve and talk to each other and how to conserve their natural habitat.
On tours, KEDC tour operators always make sure that whales are observed at a distance as not to disturb them. We want to respect their space and avoid interrupting their natural patterns. We are grateful to be a part of the experience as onlookers.
Just in this month, we have taken 73 guests out on our scenic boat and wildlife tour. We hope to not only show our visitors the beauty of our land and sea but also to explain what we are doing and what they can do to keep it beautiful for many generations to come and to enjoy.
KEDC also invests in people who are working towards being experts in this field including interns and a current k’awat’si Tourism employee. We are proud to contribute protecting our coastal marine lands through our work at k’awat’si Tourism and hope to inspire others to do the same around the world.