Humans of Campbell River: Cory Cliff

Humans of Campbell River is a collaboration between Destination Campbell River and Bluetree Photography. Showcasing the stories of those who call our coastal community home. Each week we deep dive into a new story and the connections between people and place. 

 I am Cory Cliff, a member of the Lekwiltok First Nation and Steward of the Land. My current position as President of the 7 Generation Stewards Society has been years in the making. It all started about 14 years ago. I was walking along a beach on Quadra Island, taking part in an archeological survey for the first time. I was immediately hooked. I quickly took a deep interest in learning about my people’s history in the area by walking the land and documenting archeological sites along side my two cousins Christine Roberts and Louie Wilson. The pay was ok but what really kept me coming back to the field work was the teachings I was receiving from my cousins.

 I later moved into Forestry Engineering with a few different consulting firms in the Campbell River area working in different regions of the coast and tuning my knowledge of the coastal rainforest. Seeing and learning first hand about the ups and downs of the industry, my concerns quickly became the sustainability of old growth for future generations. Struggling to move up in the industry or find my true path, I decided to take some time away from environmental work begin an apprenticeship in scaffolding. One day my phone rang and it was another one of my cousins from the Wei Was Kum Nation informing me about university level course that was being designed to facilitate First Nations environmental training. I began the Coastal Guardian Watchman training and could see my path forming. I finally had a voice and a way to make an impact in my people’s traditional territory. Through my training and role as a Wei Was Kum Guardian Watchman, I see the important work that needs to continue. I also learned about First Nations true role as stewards of the land and sea. A 7 Generation Plan caught my attention.

I had another journey I had been on at the same time and that was a cultural journey, learning to heal myself through culture. 2014 was the 20th anniversary of Qatuwas and it was here that my cultural journey began. I took part in the annual Tribal Journeys and became skipper of Klanuiqwala the Wei Was Kum Nations Canoe. Forming a close bond with some like minded members of the Canoe family including Louie Wilson and his partner and cousin in the arch field, 7 Generations Stewards Society was born. At first it was just to expand on the need for more Canoe families allowing more participation in this important annual healing journey.

After a fair amount of planning, this support circle formed the body of 7 Generation Stewards Society and began exploring ways to embrace the term “stewardship” through environmental and community-based work. The most important thing on the agenda is getting our youth involved. There are different and important types of work taking place within the society. Partnering up with a few different nonprofits and learning from the work already started, we are taking some taking some great inspiration from Greenways Land Trust and a special interest in our Urban watersheds. There is also a biannual tree plant that takes place with the 7 Generation Steward Society and its support network. This year it totalled just under 15,000 trees stretching from the Comox valley all the way up to Kwagulth and Namgis Territory on the North Island. 

I feel truly blessed and forever grateful for the path I am on. I am always exploring new ways of making a positive impact on my community and embracing the learning that is still to come.

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