The International Women’s Group learns how to pull cedar bark from a tree for use in clothing and other traditional goods.

International woman’s group pulls together; literally

Group shared in a cultural exchange as part of a project organized by the Immigrant Welcome Centre

Did you know the bark of the cedar tree can be used to make clothing?

The International Women’s Group learned first hand what this natural material can be used for and how to pull it from the tree.

On May 15, 14 First Nations youth from the Laichwiltach Learning Program, along with Elder Wayne Bell, hosted an experiential cedar bark pulling field trip for the International Women’s Group of the Immigrant Welcome Centre.

In the forest near Rock Bay, the group shared in a cultural exchange as part of a project organized by the Immigrant Welcome Centre.

The year long project is intended to foster understanding between cultural groups as they learn about one another through teachings, celebrations and stories. Each exchange is made into a short video to be shown at various community events to share how the community is learning from each other, working together and breaking down barriers by participating in cross-cultural events.

Khammy Quan, born in Laos, said, “I learned how to pull bark from the cedar tree! We spent the day with the youth sharing food and learning together from the Elder, it was good team effort. I never would have experienced this otherwise.”

In return for these teachings, Quan and fellow volunteer, Sudesh Kumar, visited the youth class afterwards to share their own stories about how and why they came to Canada.

They also shared what it was like in their country of origin while enjoying a meal with the youth of traditional foods from their homelands in Asia.

The next Cultural Exchange, A Taste of Asia, takes place Saturday, June 8 at the Maritime Heritage Centre from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Activities include tastings of traditional food, bubble tea, Taiwanese children’s games and live performances such as Tai Chi, Vietnamese Ao Dai Fashion Show and popular Cantonese singers from Nanaimo. This event is free and also takes place next to Ocean’s Day in the Maritime Heritage Centre parking lot, which is featuring the grand opening of the new Aquarium.

The Maritime Heritage Centre is also open and free of charge for the afternoon. Taste some fresh salmon and Chinese tea while you meet new people and expand your knowledge about crabs, fish, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, Taiwanese landmarks and much more.

For information about the Cultural Exchanges Project contact Shannon Briggs at 250-830-0171 or check out the Facebook event on Immigrant Welcome Centre of North Vancouver Island. For Ocean’s Day information visit