Paddle Secret Beach, connect to Toquaht culture
Paddle into ancient culture at Secret Beach Campground, Vancouver Island within Toquaht Nation Homelands #IndigenouscoastBC #SecretBeach
It’s a beautiful evening looking out onto a water so green you’d think you were in the Caribbean, instead you’ve arrived at this West Coast Indigenous camping and paddling gem. Welcome to Toquaht Nation and its Secret Beach Campground and Kayak Launch.
“Right here has always been a place of welcoming people,” explains Toquaht’s Chief Anne Mack, “To the visitors we invite here we want them to know who we are and where they are with how they can take care and respect of the land."
And you can experience that welcome this September 2, 2023: to celebrate the opening of their new cookhouse and gathering space, Secret Beach is hosting a free concert and cultural event, titled Feast of Contemporary Indigenous Music and Culture (read on for details!).
"Our goal is to give visitors some of our culture; people want to know about the original people of this country, especially when we start networking with our neighbours to present our collective history through experiences—it will be amazing.”
Chief Mack alludes to the connection between several nations, the entire point of #IndigenouscoastBC.
If you are new to this hashtag, #IndigenouscoastBC, welcome, if not, you know this invitation extends across several West Coast First Nations so anyone can come here and immerse themselves in an ancient way of being, living truly connected to the environment.
For 2023, a welcoming space and cookhouse has now been built at Secret Beach’s impressive marina, yet another amenity to this campground and kayak launches’ roster including new-for-2023 camping platforms built out over the ocean.
The song you hear in this video linked below is known as "The Paddle Song," which the Toquaht people played at dinner to receive their guests way back in the day.
WATCH: Paddle Secret Beach, connect to culture
“When you are paddling, you need song and drumming to keep you in rhythm, so the paddle song would have first come to be so many years ago, that it is hard to pin a date on it”, explains Dennis Hetu.
Today Toquaht Nation is performing their version of the paddle song to welcome visitors from around the world looking to experience one of the best paddling focused campgrounds in Canada.
Starting this September long weekend with live music and a fish fry the new Toquaht cookhouse will be used as a place to not only welcome, but also educate and inspire those lucky enough to stay here on Toquaht Nation culture and customs.
Make plans to visit Secret Beach on September 2, 2023 for a "Feast of Contemporary Indigenous Music and Culture" featuring:
Moving into 2024, the venue will offer ticketed experiences for visitors and locals (given its only 30 mins from Ucluelet) to come discover this ancient greeting.
Slide show: the new Secret Beach welcoming space and cookhouse
For Chief Mack and her fellow Toquaht citizens, she mentions it feels good to be home and that they are “doing our thing here, like we should be." This refers to the fact that at one time, the BC Government forced the Toquaht off their lands for logging and mining access. It's only been since the 1970’s that the Nation has been living back on their lands.
However, despite the intrustion, the Toquaht homelands around Toquaht Bay, home to the Secret Beach Campground, were left intact.
“For the serenity, that is how we want to keep it here, we don’t want to develop into a tourist town,” explains Mack to the reason travellers might want to experience Toquaht Nation’s Secret Beach.
“Rather we are developing a destination so those who visit can be part of it and involved by experiencing the serenity and the everything this place has to offer, the environment, the birds, the ocean, everything.”
Protection is key when you are experiencing lands with history that goes back farther than most of us can even imagine (5,000 to 18,000 years ago).
Secret Beach’s welcome mat continues to grow with its new 2km walking path (in its first phase) a walk home to over 200 culturally modified trees set within Old Growth Forest.
“The oldest culturally modified tree was discovered within Toquaht homelands,” explains Lisa Morgan, director of Community services with Toquaht Nation, “dated back 18,000 years ago.”
Head back in time and experience Secret Beach Campground and Kayak Launch within Toquaht Nation homelands. Your soul will thank you in so many ways.
“We are here now to protect what is left, we have that ability to manage our own space, how it was. It gives me strength,” explains Chief Mack, “to know that is our path forward.”
When you Go
To experience Secret Beach & Kayak Launch is easy, go to their website and make a booking today!
Travel respectfully on West Coast First Nations lands
To experience with respect, the coastal nations of BC’s West Coast invite you to take the ʔiisaak pledge, a pledge of honouring the land and managing yourself to leave no trace, actually why not integrate regenerative tourism into your visit and leave it better than it was.
Chief Mack references it above—that networking ability between nations—which is the point of #IndigenousCoastBC.
#IndigenouscoastBC circle tour
For a west coast experiences circle tour, connect a stay at Secret Beach with a visit to Pachena Bay Campground for a Kiixin Tour in Huu-ay-aht homelands (Bamfield) and truly send it for the three-nation tour, for some Tofino time within Tla-o-qui-aht Homelands via their brand new Tsawaak RV Resort & Campground.
Share your adventures
Let us know what you find, we encourage you to include the hashtag #IndigenouscoastBC so ZenSeekers might feature you.