Posted by: Kiersten | February 7, 2010

The beating heart of Ukee

I believe that community and family are the most important things in life.  People need people to survive, thrive and be happy.  The strength of a community has a huge impact on the quality of life of the people within it.  People helping each other, people working together to accomplish more than each individual could do on their own. 

The sense of community in Ucluelet is what attracted us to this little town in the first place.

Shortly after we arrived in Ukee, the community was slapped with the threat of the closure of our elementary school.  Either Tofino or Ucluelet would lose a school, and the losing town would have to bus their grade school kids for an hour to the last remaining school.  This attempt to divide and conquer our scrappy west coast towns was fought by both Tofino and Ucluelet residents *together* and in the end, we both got to keep our schools… for now.

But that slap ignited a spark in the community.

The fight is not over.  I think the threat to close the school was a smoke screen to scare the community into accepting even more cuts to the high school. 

Ten years ago, the high school had some pretty good programs.  It had a shop and some training programs to provide entry into the trades.  We *need* the trades.  The west coast communities are growing.  We’re building.  We need builders, electricians, welders and mechanics, but our high school has already cut all of these programs.  All that’s left is the academic stream – and what happens to kids in the academic programs?  They leave the community to go to university. 

Kids with access to trades training programs in the high school will stay in the community and help to build it.  They’ll be working in the community shortly after graduating from high school – we need them here! 

Young adults who would excel in the trades are being shut out of schools – they’re dropping out.  And now the province wants to hand down even more cuts, passing off the responsibility for finding millions of dollars to rural communities without disclosing how that shortfall happened. 

We need our trades programs back.  We need accessible education for ALL of the kids and teenagers in our community; if these kids can’t go to school then the families have to leave. 

Demographically, Ukee is comprised mostly of adults in their 30s with young children.  Most of the people I’ve met have moved to Ucluelet from somewhere else.  Like us, they moved here because they want to live in a small town, not a big city.  Our values are small town values, where kids grow up outside and neighbours care about each other. 

We don’t just live here, we love it here, and we’ll fight these attacks upon our community with determination and passion.



  1. It might be helpful if the trade business’s in these towns offer apprenticeship programs and maybe go to the schools and talk about what they do.
    (career day). Some of these skills can be taught at home too. woodworking, welding, plumbing, simple electrical and home repair.

  2. Thanks for posting this and all your comments. You have summed our school issues up nicely. It was so great that you girls were able to be a part of this with us. I really appreciate your support! Taking on the government is a new task for me but I know I am not alone!

    • We’re right there with you, Kathy.

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