Founded in 1979, Friends of Clayoquot Sound (FOCS) has a 40+ year legacy of environmental justice education, community organizing, and direct action for the protection of the ancient ecosystems in Clayoquot Sound. Based in Tofino, we are peaceful, strategic, courageous advocates for culture, biodiversity, and conservation.
Clayoquot Sound remains the unceded territories of three Indigenous Nations: aaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht), hišqʷiʔatḥ (Hesquiaht) and ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht). These three Nations are part of the nuučaanułatḥ (Nuu-chah-nulth Nations). Within Canada, Indigenous Nations hold inherent rights and title recognized by Canada’s Supreme Court, enshrined in the Canadian constitution, and acknowledged through International law including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Worldwide, 80% of ecologically intact and productive areas are defended by Indigenous Nations. Friends of Clayoquot Sound recognize the governance, laws, and jurisdiction of Indigenous Nations to be the highest of the land, air, and sea. Our work is developed with the guidance of the Nuu-chah-nulth advocates, in solidarity with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.
Ancient Rainforest Protection
Clayoquot Sound is home to one of the oldest, largest, most carbon dense temperate rainforests in the world. Care and protection of this ancient rainforest ecosystem is a legacy still upheld by the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations today. Clayoquot Sound came to international attention during the “war in the woods” of the 1980s and 1990s. Friends of Clayoquot Sound came into force in 1979 to support the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht Nations in defending the forests of Meares Island, the source of Tofino’s incredible drinking water. This culminated in the first successful Indigenous-led logging blockade in 1984. Since then, Friends of Clayoquot Sound have organized many direct actions including the ironic Clayoquot blockades of 1993. Many of Clayoquot Sound’s intact valleys have not been logged yet – there is still the opportunity to permanently protect this globally rare and magnificent ecosystem today.
Defend Wild Salmon
Salmon play an integral role for coastal livelihoods, cultures, and ecosystems in Clayoquot Sound. Celebrating this magnificent species is what inspires Friends of Clayoquot Sound to organize the annual Clayoquot Salmon Festival. As a keystone species, salmon support life such as orcas, bears, wolves, and eagles while providing nutrients to the ancient rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. But salmon are under significant stress in the environment from climate change and salmon farming. Since the 1980s salmon farms have threatened wild salmon stocks and marine life with diseases and parasites. Now Clayoquot Sound has one of the highest densities of open net pen salmon farm feedlots on the BC coast. Friends of Clayoquot Sound are organizing to defend wild salmon and all marine life by advocating for the removal of salmon farms from the marine environment.
Clayoquot Mining Ban
Globally, many of the world’s high-grade ore deposits have been mined out, while the price of gold and copper have fluctuated to record highs. These factors have led mining companies to target low-grade deposits, such as those found in Clayoquot Sound. Within Clayoquot Sound, a Canadian mining corporation, Imperial Metals, acquired the mining rights and an exploratory drilling permit to assess the development of a gold mine, called the Fandora project within the unceded territory of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, as well as an exploration permit for an open-pit copper mine on Catface Mountain in Ahousaht First Nation’s unceded territory. Imperial Metals is responsible for the Mount Polley mine disaster from 2014, where 25 billion litres of toxic mining waste flooded the Fraser River watershed. Indigenous Nations, local communities, and Friends of Clayoquot Sound will not allow future mining projects in Clayoquot Sound.
Climate Action Now
Climate changing pollution and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic injustices, and states of emergency are becoming commonplace. We have until 2030 to cut our emissions in half while protecting our remaining cultural and biological diversity. Otherwise, we face catastrophic impacts and this crisis moving beyond our control. Canada remains the largest per capita public financer of fossil fuels, exemplified by the Canadian Government’s 2018 purchase of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline. Additionally, Canada is criminalizing land defenders who oppose new pipelines and old growth logging, all of which are increasing climate impacts. Friends of Clayoquot Sound continue to oppose the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, including new tar sands and liquified natural gas (LNG) pipelines and tanker projects.
Earth Keepers Leadership
Earth Keepers is a multifaceted organizing initiative amplifying local leaders through artistic projects to strengthen environmental stewardship, youth leadership, artistic voice, innovation, and regional connectedness. Earth Keepers recognizes that younger generations are being forced to innovate solutions to complex environmental challenges including the climate crisis. Artistic development can provide the organizing space and opportunity to amplify critical perspectives in solidarity with younger generations. Earthkeepers Youth Arts Workshops engage local youth from Tofino, Opitsaht, Esowista, Ty-Histanis, and Ahousaht in the creation of their own artistic projects — including music, photovoice, and photography. While Friends of Clayoquot Sound integrate art into our education, advocacy, and organizing — including our annual Clayoquot Salmon Festival.