A festival highlighting Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation culture and carving art is on its way to the Coast and will run from Sept. 10-21.

West Coast set for Carving on the Edge

“Tla-o-qui-aht people have lived alongside the great grandpa and grandma trees in this area for thousands of years," said Marika Swan

Fall is whittling away at summer but the West Coast isn’t ready to hibernate just yet as the horizon is chalk-full of educational and enlightening opportunities thanks to an upcoming 10-day festival that will explore West Coast carving and culture.

The seventh annual Carving on the Edge Festival will run from Sept. 10-21 bringing workshops, demonstrations, feasts and engaging forums to locals and visitors.

This year’s theme is ‘Grounded: People to the Land’ and will celebrate the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s deep connection to the West Coast’s rainforest.

Tla-o-qui-aht carving artist and festival organizer Marika Swan is thrilled with the theme and excited to share her cultural roots.

She said this year’s festival will offer trips into old growth forests within the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park on Meares Island where goers can experience Tla-o-qui-aht protocols and learn about harvesting trees for carving.

“Tla-o-qui-aht people have lived alongside the great grandpa and grandma trees in this area for thousands of years. We were only allowed to harvest wood if we respected strict natural laws that ensured that we did not irreversibly damage the integrity of our forest ecosystems,” she said.

“We want to take people that appreciate carving out into the forest and show them what is truly at the centre of the carving arts on the West Coast.”

Festival coordinator Norma Dryden said Carving on the Edge continues to grow and generate momentum within the local carving community while also providing solid experiences for festival goers.

“The community of carvers seem to grow each year, with a camaraderie and identity as carvers,” she said.

“Each year the excitement builds with more people getting involved to deliver more workshops, volunteers, more art work, and more carvers to share their skills.”

She added the festival raises awareness of the Coast’s rich history and carving art form and its workshops provide opportunities for novice’s to get their hands working with wood and tools.

“People seem to enjoy the sharing of the cultural background which in turn inspires the contemporary arts. It helps broaden the understanding of the rich histories and skills that are indigenous to our region,” she said.

“Also, there is the opportunity to understand the carving forms, woods, and to speak to the images and their meanings from the carvers themselves.”