Paddle and Carve Through History on a Sacred and Ancient Land
FestivalSeekers would like to recognize that the Carving on the Edge is a festival that celebrates creativity, traditions and history, taking place on the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation. Festival-goers are welcomed into Tofino and a part of Canada where for more than 10,000 years the people of this coast have been stewards of one of the planet’s largest, most diverse and unique, intact rainforests.
Carving on the Edge delivers a spirited experience that is so special it’s a bit hard to explain, but ideally this story will help give you a taste for it. But first, I want to paint a picture that transports you there.
Read these next four lines and then close your eyes:
Think about water,
Think about the cleanest air,
Think about rainforest,
Think about spirit.
Now close your eyes, while thinking about water, pure air, lush rainforest and the spirits who’ve been here for millennia.
Welcome to the aptly named Carving on the Edge Festival held literally on the edge of Canada’s pristine Pacific West Coast – where the next landmass across the ocean is Japan.
Experience the “Carving Shed” at Wickanninish Beach (aka Wick) as part of your Tofino experience
“Art is something our people never lost,” says Martin, with chisel in hand as he leads his cedar box making workshop during the festival. “It helps tell our story.”
Just looking at the art, you’ll learn the stories that go back 10,000 years, showing what life was like on these raw and undeveloped landscapes. Living off the land is reflected in the pieces, giving anyone who attends the opportunity to learn.
Lectures, and art gallery and workshops are all apart of this annual festival - cedar box making workshop 2017
Blending Indigenous with non-Indigenous artists, allows folks like Christen Dock Smith to add his story to the experience. Born in Norway, he now calls Tofino’s surf and creative class home. He led a fascinating workshop on the art of producing Viking carvings. It was cool to see novice and talented carvers at the end of their eight-hour Norwegian learning session walk away with their own pattern from a Viking ship, guided by one of the world’s top Viking carving talents, no less.
Norwegian carver, tofino local Christen Dock Smith out front “Wick’s” carving shed
Next time you’re in Tofino, be sure to check out the space where Dock Smith and his colleagues craft their magic. It all happens in a 30-year-old Carving Shed, which is essentially a hut that can be explored on Chesterman Beach, next to the Wickaninnish Inn.
Hard to believe its made of wood, Carving on the Edge, Tofino
But it’s not only the artistic immersion side of this festival that you’ll take part in. You’ll also have the chance to experience how vital the water is to the way of life when you paddle into the rainforest on ancient pathways that are the lifeblood of the people living here. You’ll learn how the bounty of the land is so vital to generations of people and is part of who they are.
Passing on the carving spirit, the Carving on the Edge Festival welcomes all ages
Check out https://carvingedgefestival.com to learn more about what to expect at the annual festival.
“Being in a canoe is a continuation of an ancient life way. The tree used to produce this canoe is over 2,000 years old,” says Martin. “It’s not just the year, but the thought that this canoe carries the generations of Tla-o-qui-aht who took care of the forest,” says Martin.
It’s this stewardship that allows any of us to be welcomed into this community and paddle into the region’s history, which will surely leave you feeling different than when you arrived.
If You Go
Go to Tourism Tofino’s website, https://tourismtofino.com, to start planning your trip.
Want to do more to help preserve and understand Indigenous culture? The District of Tofino has introduced a helpful and educational Indigenous Canada cultural understanding certificate that you can earn. The link to get started in the online course is here.
Our Canadian friends and neighbours at the Tla-o-qui-aht and many other nations across the country invite you to learn more as a path to reconciliation.