What defines a Cowichan Changemaker?
Our Changemakers are the influencers, activators, connectors and innovators within the Cowichan Valley. Whether working in business or volunteering for community organizations, they are the builders and collaborators who embody new ways of doing things. Changemakers see the potential that others miss and they connect the dots between people and ideas. Join us in celebrating and learning about the people who are shaping the future of the Cowichan Region.
Cobble Hill Village
Shaping a future together
There’s a new energy cropping up in Cobble Hill Village. A community that has its roots in agriculture is now sowing new ideas about how to promote and enhance the village and connect it with other village centres across South Cowichan. Local merchants have banded together to form the Cobble Hill United Merchants Society, a friendly and collaborative organization that is putting their community on the map by honouring the village’s rural past and embracing new partnerships that will shape the future.
Marston Family / Coast Salish Artists
Melding tradition and innovation
John, Luke and Angela Marston grew up watching their parents, Jane and David Marston, and other accomplished Coast Salish carvers, observing the masters at work, absorbing traditional methods and listening to their people’s legends. John and Luke turned first to carving, while Angela became an expert in weaving cedar bark. As their mastery grew, they each realized the importance of carrying on cultural traditions while making room for the stories of a new generation.
Today, all three of them work in a range of materials, creating highly sought-after pieces that both honour the past and embrace the contemporary. Each of them uses traditional processes and tools to create highly personal expressions of their culture. Their work is represented in galleries, through important commissions and in private collections. Now masters themselves, they are turning toward the young people in their community, ready to support and nurture the next generation of Coast Salish artists.
Jock and Carmen Hildebrand | Shibui Fine Art
Bringing energy and expertise to a new stage of life
Jock and Carmen Hildebrand came to Cowichan from the Okanagan out of love, after falling head over heels for a property they saw on the internet. Far from wanting to retire, they came with the desire to build on their years of experience in the art community and, in Jock’s case, a career as a sculptor which has seen his installations displayed around the world.
As soon as they settled onto their property in Maple Bay, they got to work, making connections in the local arts community, building a bronze foundry and opening the Shibui Gallery, which displays pieces from artists around Cowichan. Carmen is now Executive Director of the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, and Jock is involved in a variety of public art projects. Together, they contribute energy, creativity and business acumen to Cowichan – a place they see not as a bucolic hideaway but as a dynamic hub for artistic expression.
Meg Cuthbert and Dan Pender | Potentially Famous Productions
Coming home to start a business
Dan Pender was born and raised in Cowichan but left to pursue opportunities in audio and video production in Victoria and Vancouver. Eventually, the desire to be near family and to live in a smaller and more affordable community led him to return with his partner Meg, a writer and video journalist. They had dreamed of setting up a recording and video production facility, but hadn’t been able to afford it in the city. Could they make it work in Cowichan? There was only one way to find out.
Their company, Potentially Famous Productions, has been working with local businesses and musicians and is starting to attract clients from outside the region. And while there are challenges to being slightly off the beaten track, Dan and Meg believe they can make it work – for them, being able to live in the place they love is well worth an extra investment in ingenuity, creativity and effort.
Creating exceptional local theatre for 25 years
Chemainus Theatre, like so many artistic endeavours, started small. Their first production was performed on the streets of Chemainus. By 1993, the theatre had created its own home, an award-winning building in the heart of the town. While early days were difficult and required huge commitment and hard work on the part of founders Ken Smith and LaVerne Erikson, the theatre has become one of Cowichan’s premier attractions.
Over the past 25 years, the theatre has presented hundreds of critically acclaimed shows ranging from mysteries to musicals. Its annual Christmas productions have become a family tradition around the region, as have its many musicals. Behind the scenes, hundreds of volunteers put in thousands of hours so that the shows can go on, and the founders continue to be involved as Directors at Large. As an artistic venue, a tourist attraction and a supporter of the arts, the Chemainus Theatre is truly one of the jewels in Cowichan’s crown.