Master carver Joe David puts a hand on the totem pole he carved for the township of Tofino, and everyone who stands before it, in Sept. 2018. David is a founding member of the Carving Festival and Society. (Westerly file photo)

Master carver Joe David puts a hand on the totem pole he carved for the township of Tofino, and everyone who stands before it, in Sept. 2018. David is a founding member of the Carving Festival and Society. (Westerly file photo)

Carving on the Edge virtual festival springs into town

Live Open Carving Area and “Around the Fire” Virtual Discussion Forums replace usual in-person events


Special to the Westerly

The Carving on the Edge 2021 Virtual Festival is finally here! While this year’s festival has been a pivot from traditional festival offerings, the programming is still faithful to all of the things that make the festival unique.

The commitment to cultural bridge building, supporting growth in the carving community and understanding the coastal traditions of carving are at the festival’s roots and still at the heart of this year’s festival.

The Opening Ceremony on Friday evening will speak to how this year’s festival emerged, the events curation process, and what the future holds.

To honour the coastal roots of carving, we have a Hesquiaht language session which will focus on language revitalization efforts in the Hesquiaht community.

There is an Artist Talk with Hjalmer Wenstob where he will discuss the role of carving arts in record-keeping and the creation of his COVID mask. Gordon Dick hosts a series of films introducing his work and in conversation with master carvers Kelly Robinson, Joe David and Tim Paul.

To continue our commitment to ongoing cultural bridge building, we have an experiential panel discussion on cultural appropriation as well as a Show & Tell panel where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous carvers share what they are working on.

To support the growth of our carving community, we have a woodcarving workshop with Robinson Cook, where he will introduce tools, techniques and wood selection.

While nothing will match the magic of the in-person festival, our live Open Carving Area and “Around the Fire” Virtual Discussion Forums are an attempt to get as close as we can.

We can’t wait for you to join us. Tell your friends and we’ll see you this weekend.

Brianne Dempsey is the Carving on the Edge festival co-ordinator. Visit for event registration.

VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht artist gifts whale fin sculpture to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

READ: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations totem pole honours chiefs

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