Local wood carver Ralph Wilson (above) shows a group of Ocean Grove Elementary students the killer whale plaque he carved for their school while his uncle Allen Chickite (right) told the kids stories passed on by First Nations elders.

Bringing culture back to the community

Ocean Grove Elementary is receiving two special gifts from a local carver

Ocean Grove Elementary is receiving two special gifts from a local carver.

Ralph Wilson, a local First Nations wood carver, chiseled out a killer whale in front of a group of students which he will give to the school to be used as a plaque. He is also making the school a 20-foot totem pole which will bear a killer whale and most likely an eagle or thunderbird on top. Wilson was invited to the school via the social media tool Facebook.

“A bunch of parents asked me if I would like to come,” said Wilson. “They said they’d like to bring more culture into the school.”

Wilson’s uncle, Allen Chickite, came along to share stories with the students while Wilson chipped away at his carving. Wilson began carving 14 years ago after his cousin, Rupert Scow Jr. from Gilford Island, needed some help with his own carvings. He’s stuck with it ever since and has participated in Campbell River Shoreline Arts Society’s annual wood carving competition for the past several years, starting out as a novice and working his way up to semi-professional.

“It’s been good,” said Wilson. “It’s relaxing and I got a niche for it; I love the stories that go with it and it brings culture back to the community.”

Wilson, who typically carves masks, totem poles and plaques, also likes to paint. He’s donated one of his paintings to the Cancer Society and presented a grouse mask to the Transition Society. One of his totem poles can be found in Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island.