The traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations are under the spotlight in Tofino this August and September. Get acquainted with two festivals which will bring you face-to-face with some authentic local culture:

Carving On the Edge Festival—Tofino

The newly-opened Inkwis Arts & Culture Centre acts as basecamp for this celebration of the ancient tradition of wood carving on Vancouver Island’s west coast. Master carver workshops with prolific Tla-o-qui-aht brothers Joe and Carl Martin take place on the scenic SHORE pier. Register for a three-day paddle carving workshop with Carl and come home with your own work of art, or immerse yourself in carving culture and stories at an evening with ethnographer Ron Hamilton and Godfrey Stephens, who carved the Weeping Cedar Woman in 1984 in support of the protests against the logging of old-growth forests on Meares Island. On September 14th, family members of all ages can learn to carve on the Tofino Village Green during the Tofino Public Market from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  We hear there’s buzz about this festival in the carving community beyond Vancouver Island, and artisans from near and far have been known to join in the celebration for some impromptu carving.  View the complete events schedule at

Cultural Heritage Festival—Tofino and Ucluelet

In its second year, this festival honours the rich history of the Pacific Rim region as demonstrated through the arts, with a yearly-changing theme. An opening ceremony takes place at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve—which merits a follow-up walk on the neighbouring Nuu-chah-nulth trail, winding through 3.8 km of various habitats toward Florencia Bay. This year’s focus on Nuu-chah-nulth culture presents opportunities to meet featured carvers Patrick Amos and Gordon Dick, carving a ten-foot tall totem pole in the lobby of Ucluelet’s Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. Jason Titian is a member of the Ahousaht First Nation on Flores Island, a 40 minute boat ride northwest of Tofino, will be screening his documentary on Nuu-chah-nulth culture, while a number of artisans will be on-site at galleries throughout Tofino and Ucluelet for a rare opportunity to showcase their ancient talents with the public. To learn about events as the schedule is finalized, visit the Pacific Rim Arts Society, organizers of the Cultural Heritage Festival, at