I recently spent a day with Aboriginal Tourism BC and some of its stakeholders/partners to share unique local opportunities that help you experience your own city like never before. This is the second post in a three part series.
Takaya Tours with Aboriginal Tourism BC
“If you see one our height or bigger, our ancestors would have picked berries off the same plant,” Cease Wyss told me as she lifted the branches of a red huckleberry tree and picked a few juicy pearls for us to try. Cease is a guide with Takaya Tours, owned and operated by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and based out of Cates Park (Whey-Ah-Wichen) in North Vancouver and (Tum-tumay-wheuton) in Belcarra Regional Park, Port Moody.
Red Huckleberries can be found growing out of the top of rotting stumps, feeding on the remnants of old timber, and they are abundant in our local parks. Reciting the latin name, Vaccinium parvifolium, Cease listed off the benefits of this berry and the significance of its bounty over the years, feeding many generations. Her experience and knowledge is tough to beat. Not only is she well versed in ethnobotany, she shares helpful tips on her Indigenous Plant Diva site, the latest extension of a blog she began over a decade ago.
“When I do the walks I want people to be as passionate as me so I really try to infuse it into them that this is something – and you might just be here for an hour – but even if you take away one piece of information from this walk that stays with you and carries you through your personal health and wellness then that’s my vision and my hope. That’s why I really love doing this work.”
“Teaching people how to pick things and teaching them how delicate our ecosystem is, is like putting a pebble in the water and watching the ripple effects that go out.”
Cease is one of the only guides for Takaya Tours that works 12 months of the year because things are growing in the forest all the time. “That’s the amazing thing living on the Pacific Northwest Coast, and that’s how our people survived for so long,” Cease told our group from Aboriginal Tourism BC.
During her walking tours she will also add in songs and stories but her main focus is on the plants and how to use them, starting with the plants’ own lifecycle, including the pollinators.
Cease tries to make her knowledge accessible and has done many talks at schools of all levels and in various communities, as well as teaching her family about the benefits of natural supplements. She shared that her daughter, who is now a teenager, remarked that growing up when her friends were taking pain pills she was drinking Salmonberry leaf tea to cure the same ailments.
“By having an eco tourism company we promote and encourage people to think outside the box… …Take the time to walk in the forest, go on the water and experience something that uses human power to get somewhere.”
The Rainforest Walking Tour runs for two hours with a focus on wildlife, aboriginal village sites, and vegetation education. You can book online between May and October.
Adventures Offered by Takaya Tours
Experienced First Nation guides like Cease host a variety of different adventures with Takaya Tours that include: Canoe Tours, Kayak Tours, Canoeing and Walking Tour, Spawning Salmon Tour, Cultural Boat Excursions, and Multi-Day Tours.
Learn more by visiting the Takaya Tours website and Facebook, and also the Takaya Tours listing on the Aboriginal Tourism BC website. There is also tourism information available at Klahowya Village in Stanley Park which is open every day until September around the Miniature Railway area.