We are a volunteer collective of musicians, artists, and organizers who aspire to belong to vibrant communities working towards social justice, Indigenous resurgence, reconciliation, stewardship of local ecosystems, and community-driven alternatives to the status quo. We believe in the power of music and art with purpose, and in the importance of gathering in numbers to build our strength and amplify our voices.
Koksilah Music Festival takes place in the unceded territories of the Quw’utsun People at Tuwe’nu (Providence Farm), at the base of Pi’Paam’ (Mt. Tzouhalem) in what is commonly known as Cowichan Bay, or Tl’upalus in Hul’qumi’num.
The festival is organized in recognition and celebration of the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations throughout BC. 2017 marked Canada’s 150th but also more than 500 years of Indigenous resistance to colonial exploitation and assimilation on turtle island. Our intention is to highlight the perspectives of Indigenous musicians, artists, activists and knowledge keepers. We are partnered with Quw’utsun elders and traditional leaders to ensure that this gathering follows proper protocols and is accessible to the local Indigenous community. All Quw’utsun people are invited free of charge to reflect the fact that the Cowichan Valley is unceded Quw’utsun Territory.
The festival is named after the Koksilah river, which drains into Cowichan Bay not far from the festival grounds. The Koksilah’s deep pools, eddies, and waterfalls are where locals revitalize during the heat of summer. These same swim spots used to provide sanctuary to a healthy salmon run that returned each year to create a new generation of coho, steelhead, chinook, pink, and chum salmon. Weirs maintained by the Quw’utsun people once provided abundant Coho, Spring and Steelhead salmon for the smokehouses every fall. It is now rare to catch a glimpse of these salmon headed upstream, and we have named this festival in recognition of the broad-based community support the Koksilah will require to return to its former strength, so it can again provide sustenance to the Quw’utsun community.
All festival proceeds will be donated to grassroots initiatives led by Indigenous people asserting sovereignty over their ancestral territories. These groups are working tirelessly to re-occupy and protect their traditional lands and waters, revitalize their cultural practices, and reconnect people with the land.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE FUNDRAISING.