Our Story

Sharing stories of coastal carving since 2010

Festival Mission Statement

To inspire the growth of the traditional and contemporary coastal carving arts through celebration, education and relationship-building.

Territorial Acknowledgement

With great respect, we acknowledge the traditional and unceded territory of the ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations), on whose ancestral lands we host our festival and programs. We also acknowledge and raise our hands to all nations within the traditional territories of the Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples, throughout which our work is carried out.

Photo of ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ Totem Pole by Joe David.

Story of the Festival

The biennial Carving on the Edge Festival celebrates the traditional and contemporary coastal carving arts and the rich cultural history of the region. The festival offers opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the coastal traditions of carving with the goals of encouraging the growth of the carving community and building much-needed cultural bridges.

For thousands of years, the monumental trees of the coastal temperate rainforests of Clayoquot Sound have inspired a rich and diverse carving culture. From the practical purposes of the dug-out canoe to the ceremonial roles of headdresses and record-keeping of great totem poles, carving is at the heart of this land and of the people of the land. Coastal carving has made unique contributions to fine art and archival collections around the world, but at the heart of the festival is the celebration of carving as living history.

As proud Tribal Parks Allies, we are honoured to live, work, and play in the unceded haḥuułi of the ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations).

Festival Roots

The Carving on the Edge Festival celebrates traditional and contemporary carving arts with something for everyone from lovers of arts and culture to carvers of all skill levels. Each year’s festival features exhibits, forums, evening programs, workshops, demonstrations, cultural presentations and canoe tours. We gather in Clayoquot Sound, traditional territory of the ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations), to host the festival. Programming includes a wide range of workshops, exhibitions, artist talks, guided tours, installations and performances geared towards everyone from the curious public to experienced woodcarvers. Master carvers lead the festival’s themes with input from the rest of the festival’s community.

Carving on the Edge Festival was born in 2010 on a stormy weekend at Tofino’s Tin Wis carving shed. A group of Nuu-chah-nulth carvers, elders and culture-makers met for three days to talk about the traditions and cultural teachings of coastal carving. They gathered ideas on how to share and teach their skills with others – carvers, communities, and youth – with the purpose of growing the carving community while sharing traditional teachings and stories. The group became the ‘Keepers of the Festival’.

Since 2010, we have grown the annual festival to support relationship-building in the contemporary and traditional carving communities. Themes and programs are led by master carvers, are guided by First Nations values and blend tradition and history with contemporary relevance. In 2018, our Board of Directors made a strategic decision to guide our long-term, sustainable growth: we would transition to a biennial festival celebration, with our 10th festival anniversary celebration occurring in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic put an expected hold on our 10th anniversary festivities but 2021 provided the opportunity to begin again. The festival will continue in a biennial format, allowing for time and resources in the alternate festival years to focus on supporting local cultural projects and building capacity for community programs.

eMail Newsletter

Sign-up for Festival Updates

The Carving on the Edge Festival sends out periodic updates on the festival and out-of-festival events. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the coastal carving scene, please sign-up using the form below.