Festival Events

Ticket cost, availability and venue maximums will be subject to change following the Provincial Health Guidelines. 

For all indoor events, masks must be worn.


A full calendar can be found here.


S’amunu Make a Difference Day

Saturday, October 2nd, 10-3pm

Location: S’amunu/Somenos Watershed. 


Please join other community volunteers for a community cleanup of the S’amunu watershed streams. The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society recently completed assessing the condition of the S’amunu/Somenos watershed streams and discovered that the most pressing issue is the amount of garbage in these streams and riparian corridors.  The 2nd annual S’amunu Make a Difference Day is the day teams of volunteers, guided by Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society staff, clean up the mess left by others. Last year over 600kgs of garbage was removed. The SMWS hopes to double this effort this year.


 Celebrate Somenos Family Day

Sunday, October 3rd, Noon to 3pm.

Location:  Open Air Classroom

Tickets: By donation at the venue. 

Join us at the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom (OAC for our annual Open House where we provide self-guided tours with nature and other specialists at each boardwalk pullout and along the trails providing information about, birds, fish, photography, and other related things. Presenters include the Raptor Centre who will have a few birds ‘on hand’, a Wild Weaving table using invasive plants, a kids table for nature activities as well as a lot of past and present information about the S’amunu/Somenos Conservation Area. To challenge the kids, a passport will be available that, when filled with stamps from each station, can be entered for some nice nature-oriented gift. The OAC is off the Trans-Canada Highway just north of Beverly Street. Parking will be very limited, and visitors are encouraged to park at York Road or the Somenos Dog Park and Walk the S’amunu Trail (dike trail) to the OAC.



WildWings Nature Art Exhibition & Sale

Sunday October 3- Saturday Oct 30

Location: Just Jakes Restaurant 

The WildWings Art Exhibition is an exhibition and sale of nature art by Southern Vancouver Island nature artists. The exhibition is on display at Just Jakes restaurant in the heart of downtown Duncan. Viewing is best enjoyed while having a meal or during the restaurants ‘off-hours’ when few patrons are present.

The art show reception planned for October 6th is postponed until October 27 if Covid restrictions at the time allow the event to go ahead.



WorkDay Wednesdays

Wednesday October 6, 13, 20, 27

Location: TBA on Somenos Marsh social media pages the week prior. 

Tickets: Free, sign up is required via our email at info@somenosmarsh.com


Please join the SMWS staff for a weekly work party taking place every Wednesday somewhere in the S’amunu watershed. The work parties will be announced and promoted via social media a week prior to each event. There will be a break time speaker of interest, a water refill station will be available to refill your water bottles, and some snacks will be provided. By the end of each day, you will be tired but brimming with new knowledge and new friendships.




Celebrating the interconnectedness of nature and art- banner showing

October, all month

Location: Cowichan Community Centre hallway between CVAC gallery and arena 

School classes, in collaboration with the Cowichan Valley Arts Council (CVAC), are being invited to design and paint 3ft x 4ft canvas banners based on the theme of Celebrating the interconnectedness of nature and art to bring attention to the important ecosystems in the Cowichan Valley. Banners will be displayed in the ground-floor hallway of the Cowichan Community Centre October 1- November 15.


Sunday, October 3rd 3-4 pm at Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre

Special Event with Local Indigenous Plant Experts

Meet authors Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie and Nancy J. Turner at a talk and book signing for Luschiim’s Plants: Traditional Indigenous Foods, Materials and Medicines ($29.95, Harbour Publishing).

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre will host the outdoor event on Sunday, October 3 from 3-4pm. Please dress for the weather, wear a mask and bring your own coffee cup if you would like a drink. The book will also be available for purchase.

Luschiim’s Plants is an unprecedented collection of botanical information. Over 140 plants are categorized within their broad botanical groupings: algae and seaweeds, lichens, fungi and mushrooms, mosses and liverworts, ferns and fern-allies, coniferous trees, deciduous trees, shrubs and vines, and herbaceous flowering plants. Each entry is
illustrated with a colour photo and includes the plant’s common, scientific and Hul′q′umi′num′ names; a short description; where to find it; and cultural knowledge related to the plant. Additional notes encompass plant use, safety and conservation; the linguistic writing system used for Hul′q′umi′num′ plant names; as well as miscellaneous
notes from interviews with Luschiim.

Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie was born in Quamichan, one of the Cowichan Villages, in 1942 and has lived in the Duncan area all of his life. From the age of three, he began learning about plants and their various uses from the Elders in his family. Since then, he has made it a personal priority to gather knowledge about the natural environment. In 2007, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters degree at Malaspina University[1]College in recognition of his extensive contributions to the teaching of Coast Salish culture and traditions in a wide range of contexts, as well as his commitment to the protection of the environment and preservation of the Hul′q′umi′num′ language.

Nancy J. Turner is internationally known for her work in ethnobotany, the study of plants and cultures. She lives in Nanaimo.

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is located at 1845 Cowichan Bay Rd. People wishing to attend the event should meet at the front of the centre just before 3pm. For more information about the event, please visit www.cowichanestuary.ca, call 250-597-2288 or email info@cowichanestuary.ca.

For more information, to schedule an interview with Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie or Nancy J. Turner, or to request a copy of Luschiim’s Plants, contact Charlotte Gray at Harbour Publishing: email: charlotte@harbourpublishing.com, phone: 604-883-2730 www.harbourpublishing.com



Our Place in the Universe 

Sunday, October 3rd, 6pm
Location: Bright Angel Park, indoors if weather is poor. 
Tickets: $10 for individual or family. RSVP required. Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/our-place-in-the-universe-tickets-166110269287

Come learn how to easily find your way around the night sky and discover our place in the Universe. Binocular viewing is an inexpensive and fun way to learn about the night sky and the precious world we call Mother Earth, but you don’t need them! Join in Bryon’s Workshop and reconnect to our night sky and appreciate the rare beauty and splendour and gain a deeper connection to the planet we call our home. Participants must wear appropriate clothing, maybe bring a chair or a blanket to sit/lie on, and a flashlight that they will be asked to turn off to let out eyes adapt, and binoculars if they have them. The event will move indoors should the outdoor viewing is not available due to weather. The indoor location is to be announced.




WN&AF Launch Party cancelled and WildWings Nature Art Show opening reception has moved to October 26 due to current Covid restrictions for indoor events.

WildWings Nature & Art Festival (WN&AF) Launch & Art Exhibition Reception

Wednesday, October 6th, 6pm. 

Location: Just Jakes Restaurant in Downtown Duncan

Join us at Just Jakes Restaurant for the annual WNA&F launch party, the kickoff celebration for 4 weeks of cultural events and nature events, activities, hands-on experiences and outdoor learning adventures at Somenos Marsh and around the Cowichan Valley. The Launch involves tasting the annual WildWings ale, sampling the gourmet Wild Bites, and surrounding yourself with great jazz by John Wade and the WildWings trio. The launch party is also the opening reception for the WildWings Art Exhibition: a collection of nature art gracing Just Jakes’ wall that are for sale by Southern Vancouver Island artists. A percentage of all art sales goes towards supporting future WildWings Festivals. 


Wade Davis book signing

Thursday October 7, 2-4pm

Location: Volume One Bookstore

Tickets: Free.

Please join author Wade Davis at Volume One Bookstore in downtown Duncan where he will be meeting the public and signing his most recent book, Magdalena, River Of Dreams. Copies of Wade’s previous books will also be available for purchase.



Sharing a Sense of Place: a WildWings Keynote speech by Wade Davis

Thursday, October 7th, 7pm. 

Location: Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. 

Tickets: $20 on sale at the CPAC.

The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is honoured to host Wade Davis as our keynote speaker for the 2021 WildWings Nature & Arts Festival. Wade will be speaking to the 2021 WildWings theme, Sharing a sense of Place where he will relate our theme to the current world around us.

Wade Davis is a writer and photographer whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 2000 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Author of 23 books, including One RiverThe Wayfinders and Into the Silence, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia. His latest book is Magdalena: River of Dreams, published by Knopf in 2020. On a local note, he attended Brentwood College in Mill Bay for his high school education. For more info daviswade.com

Portrait by Adam Dillon




Takaya: Lone Wolf – A Book Signing with Author Cheryl Alexander 

Friday, October 8th

Location: Volume One Bookstore in downtown Duncan 

Tickets: Free

 Please join author Cheryl Alexander at Volume One Bookstore in downtown Duncan where she will be meeting the public and signing her book, Takaya: Lone Wolf, and her two children’s books, Good Morning Takaya, and Takaya’s Journey. 




The Story of a Wolf and a Woman 

Lone Wolf – A Sentinel for the Salish Sea

Friday, October 8th, 7pm 

Location: Vancouver Island University Lecture Theatre (Duncan Campus).

Tickets: $10 on Eventbrite and at the venue. 


Conservation photographer, educator and naturalist Cheryl Alexander discusses her unique journey with Takaya, the world famous lone wolf who lived on an archipelago near Victoria for almost eight years. Cheryl observed and documented Takaya’s life in the islands for six years, gradually solving the mystery of how he survived alone in a tiny island territory with no deer, elk, or year-round source of fresh water. After Takaya’s death at the hands of a hunter in March 2020, Cheryl launched the Takaya’s Legacy Project, a grassroots initiative designed to promote wolf conservation and education in B.C. (www.takayaslegacy.com). 

In this talk, Cheryl will explain how she came to understand Takaya and gain his trust, and how Takaya’s story has impacted people around the world. Using stunning photos and video clips collected over 6 years, she will introduce the ecology of his chosen territory, including his relationship with migratory birds and the other creatures who shared his world. She will discuss the significance of Takaya’s story with respect ot coexistence, and the lessons that we can all learn from this remarkable and resilient lone wolf. Her talk will be followed by a Q & A and a book signing of her book Takaya: Lone Wolf and her two children’s books, Good Morning Takaya and Takaya’s Journey. 



Traditional Paths and Future Ways with Harold Joe 

Saturday, October 9th, 10-12 noon.

Location: Ye’yumnuts 

Tickets: $15 RSVP required. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/166110840997 

This is the third year for this popular event presented by Cowichan Tribes member, Harold Joe. Harold is a well-known and respected documentary film producer, actor, archaeological advisor, and grave digger. Harold will walk you through the history of the Quw’utsun People while sharing with you the often misunderstood ways of the Cowichan People and their practices. The presentation will take place at the Ye’yumnuts ancient site located in the S’amunu/Somenos Conservation Area. For more information about Ye’yumnuts, visit https://www.yeyumnuts.ca/




Medicinal Plant Walk with Della Rice Sylvester. 

Saturday, October 9, 10-12 noon.

Location: Bright Angel Park 

Tickets: $20 RSVP required. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/medicinal-plant-walk-with-della-rice-sylvester-tickets-169157112477

One of our more popular events, now in its 6th year. Join indigenous plant expert, Huyamise Della (Rice) Sylvester for a walkabout and discovery of everyday plants, and some rare ones too, and how they are used now and before the arrival of modern medicine. The tour is held in Bright Angel Park with its tiny grove of old growth trees and Koksikah River running through it. Crossing the suspension bridge is half the fun. Dress for the outdoors and maybe wet weather. 




The First Annual Big Day Birding Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend October 9-10

The first ever Big Bird Weekend, new to WildWings, and perfect for bird enthusiasts and people new to the birding and wanting to experience a little bit of birding fun. The event kicks off saturday with a showing of the movie, The Big Year, at Caprice Theatre in Downtown Duncan. The birding begins the next day as teams vie for the coveted title of being the ‘2021 Cowichan Big Bird IBA.’ Teams will scour both the Somenos and Cowichan Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) attempting to prove, once and for all, which IBA has the most species. 




Movie at the Caprice- The Big Year 

Saturday October 9, 11am

Location: Caprice Theatre 

Tickets: $10 includes a pop and popcorn.

Three avid bird-watchers Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads — one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a late-life crisis, and the third, a far from ordinary no-life crisis, pursue the world record of spotting the highest number of birds during the Big Year, a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America in a calendar year. The film is perfect as a kick off for your own Big Birding Day as it was filmed in Cowichan Bay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCBAP2wld5M 




Big Day Birding Competition 

Sunday, October 10th, 9 am – noon. 

Location: Somenos Marsh IBA Team – Somenos Dog Park. Cowichan Estuary IBA Team – meet at Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. 

Tickets: Free.

The very first WildWings Big Day Birding Competition hosted by Cowichan Valley Naturalists, pits Team Somenos against Team Cowichan Bay in a birding contest, between the Somenos Marsh Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and the Cowichan Bay IBA to increase local knowledge about Cowichan’s two IBA’s and to introduce people to the fun and pleasure of birdwatching. Teams are led by local bird experts to find as many species as possible within each of the IBA boundaries. No experience is necessary bit bring binoculars, spotting scopes or cameras with telephoto lenses if you are so equipped. The winning IBA will be awarded the coveted IBA Rooster Award. 



WildWeaving Workshop

Sunday, October 10, 9:30-4pm

Location: Cowichan Green Community Boardroom. 

Tickets: $75. RSVP required. 

Jan MacKirdy, trained by now-retired Maria Curtis, is leading our annual basket making workshop using natural materials found in Somenos Marsh. In her words- “Using Yellow Flag Iris leaves for the weavers and a common reed for the spokes we will begin making a double square base then using twining techniques, and your choice of natural materials, we will twine around the perimeter of the woven square to form a round shaped basket. Additions of other natural materials will make the basket unique.” All materials and tools are supplied, and spaces are limited. 




Making the most of Winter Bird Mortality: Identifying Breeding Populations and the Implications for Conservation


Tuesday October 12th, 6:30-9:30

Location: On Zoom 7 to 8 pm

Tickets: By Donation. RSVP required. Please register by email  paul.fletcher@somenosmarsh.com

The largest sources of direct anthropogenic avian mortality in Canada are depredation by cats and collisions with buildings. Bird populations that spend all or most of the non-breeding season in heavily urbanized areas may be particularly vulnerable to population-level effects of these two sources of direct anthropogenic mortality. However, despite the significant decline in temperate breeding and wintering bird populations, we know little about the causes of these declines. One area to address these questions is southwestern British Columbia where there are large numbers of breeding and wintering land birds. In this region, a small number of species account for over half the collision mortality; their breeding populations are largely in steep decline. We analyzed the hydrogen stable isotope composition of tissues collected from birds killed as a result of direct anthropogenic mortality (largely cats and windows) to determine the likely breeding ground populations of these species. This is the first step to evaluating the relative importance of these sources of mortality on bird populations, and to aid prioritizing limited conservation dollars on threats and stages of the annual cycle that will have the largest impact for population. 




Birding and Bird Photography for Beginners with Mike Yip

Wednesday, October 13th, 7-8:30 pm via zoom 

Location: Via Zoom 

Tickets: Free. Sign up required. https://cowichanvalleyartscouncil.ca/event/bird-photog/


After a career in education and the accidental first-time sighting in 2004 of a Norther Shoveler Duck, Mike Yip’s obsession into birding and bird photography was launched. Since then, he has written many bird articles and self-published 6 books on Vancouver Island Birds and nature. Mike’s presentation will focus on tips for beginning birders and bird photographers including what birds are seen on Vancouver Island, when and where to look for them, and basic tips on how to capture great bird photos. 




Traditional Pi’kwun with Qwustenuxun

Thursday, October 14th, 8am onwards. 

Tickets: $50. RSVP required. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/169164452431 

Location: Tl’ulpalus Beach in Cowichan Bay

Learn about cooking sockeye salmon the traditional Salish way and then enjoy eating it afterwards on Tl’ulpalus Beach with the panorama of Cowichan Bay, Pi’paam and Swuq’us in front of you. One of your more popular events featuring Chef Qwustenuxun, (Jared Williams), demonstrating how it is done. The learnings will including teachings about Salish history and the occupation of this area for thousands of years. Ticket price includes side plates of delicious food prepared by the Community Farm Store chef, James Day. From preparing the fire to savouring the taste you will be involved in every aspect of the process. To reduce waste, we are requesting that you bring your own plate, cutlery, and water bottle which we will kindly refill for you. We will supply the rest. Please dress for the weather and bring a blanket and cozy chair to sit on. 




Fish Tales

Thursday, October 14th 

Location: Stillhead Distillery 

Everything you need to know about fish and whisky and aren’t afraid to ask. Join us for an evening of fish and whisky, the perfect combination to encourage Fish Tales on a grand scale. Our distiller host, Brennan Colebank will offer small pours of his finest while our resident fish expert, Dr. Dave Preikshot, will guide you through the wily ways of fish and their habits while, at the same time, talking about his ideas for Bringing Back the Salmon to the Somenos system. 




Green Drinks 

Friday, October 15th, 6pm 

Location: Craig Street Brew Pub, 3rd floor. 

Tickets: Free

Join the SMWS as we present our GreenStreams Strategy to the monthly gathering of green learning folk at Green Drinks hosted by the Craig Street Brew Pub. Food and drinks abound. Come and mix with like-minded people and learn about the GreenStreems Strategy and how the strategy will contribute to improving water quality and the health of the S’amunu watershed. A great opportunity to learn about all other ‘green’ things happening around the Cowichan Valley. 



Plein Air Painting Workshop 

Saturday, October 16th, 1-4pm 

Location: Waterfront location tba

Tickets: $25 sign up here: https://cowichanvalleyartscouncil.ca/event/workshop-painting-plein-air/ 

Learn some essential tips on how to paint and sketch outdoors and capture the surroundings in a small group setting in a way that can’t be replicated by painting from photos. The event is hosted by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council and instructed by Rory MacDonald and Peter Spohn at a prearranged waterfront location. Rory macDonald is an associate member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and a full-time award-winning painter after many years in education in Alberta.  http://www.rorymacdart.com. Peter Spohn is a former Waldorf teacher and university instructor with an MFA in painting and has been painting landscapes full time for 20 years. https://peterspohn.com/.




Movie at the Caprice: Damnation 

Saturday, October 16, 11 am. 

Location: Caprice Theatre

Tickets: $10 includes a pop and popcorn.

This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has been moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds after decades without access. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuvBRAfT2g0




Drum Making Workshop (CVAC)

Saturday, October 16th, 9-11:30

Location: CVAC

Tickets: CVAC members- $165/ non-CVAC members $195. https://cowichanvalleyartscouncil.ca/event/making-a-coast-salish-drum/

Make a deer hide drum in this small group session in the Cowichan Valley Arts Council’s studio. Led by Hwiemtun (Fred Roland) a popular local teacher, the group will receive all the precut materials and hear about the traditions behind the drumming. Hwiemtun’s connection to the spirit world, passion for storytelling and love of sharing diverse traditions of indigenous knowledge, has made it possible for him to bridge many worlds. 




Afloat in a Boat (BYOB) 

Sunday, October 17th, 10-2pm 

Location: Somenos Lake Drinkwater Dock 

Tickets: By donation. RSVP required. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/169166729241 

Join the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society as we lead a leisurely BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) 4-hour circumnavigation of Somenos Lake. The tour will involve speakers aboard the HMCS Somenos who will present information about the environment, nature and history of the S’amunu watershed. The tour will also include a visit. to Somenos Creek, an invasive plant hotspot, currently occupied over 80% of its length by the Amazonian plant, Parrots Feather. Dress for the weather and bring snacks, water and your binoculars or long lens cameras. Kayaks, canoes, and electric motors are welcome. 



Koksilah Ancient Trees 

Sunday, October 17th

Location: Meeting Location tba 

Tickets: $20. RSVP required.

Join a hike to the Koksilah Ancient Trees to experience this incredible old growth forest with tall Douglas firs that are up to 800 years old. This is a dog-free, all-day event, bring a bag lunch and water and dress for the weather with appropriate footwear. The trail is rugged – good health and ability to manage steep and rough trails is necessary. 



The ‘It Ain’t Easy Being Green Gala Fundraiser’ aka ‘Green Gala’ 

Saturday, October 23rd, 6pm 

Location: Birds Eye Cove Farm, Genoa Bay 

Tickets: $125 with a $50 tax receipt. RSVP required. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/169174781325 

Please join us to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society as well as the lucky 12th anniversary of their baby, the WildWings Nature & Arts Festival. Join us at the beautifully situated Birds Eye Cove Farm for a Farms Gate Catered dinner with music by John Wade and the WildWings Kings, a silent auction, and the announcement of the 2022 Artist of the Somenos. Dress is requested to be Cowichan-formal and your first two beverages, a choice of fine Averill Creek wines, Craig Street’s WildWings beer or other beverage, is on us!




Cowichan Geology 

Tuesday, October 26th, 7pm 

Location: On Zoom. 

Tickets: By donation, https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cowichan-geology-tickets-169176713103

Bruce Coates is a Geologist and Naturalist who lives and plays in the Cowichan valley. Bruce will give an overview of the Valley Geology-Glaciology and show some connections between those and the Natural and Human worlds of today. 


WildWings Nature Art Show Reception 

Tuesday, October 26th

Location: Just Jakes Restaurant. 

The art show artists reception takes place Tuesday October 26 at Just Jakes if Covid restrictions are relaxed for group gatherings is relaxed by then. The WildWings Nature Arts show, is a collection of nature art gracing Just Jakes’ wall that are for sale by Southern Vancouver Island artists. A percentage of all art sales goes towards supporting future WildWings Festivals. The opening reception also  involves tasting the annual WildWings ale, sampling the gourmet Wild Bites, and surrounding yourself with great jazz by John Wade and the WildWings trio.



Fact or Fiction: Learning to live with Bullfrogs 

Wednesday, October 27th, 6:30pm


Location: Cowichan Community Centre Boardroom 

Tickets: $10. RSVP required. https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/169177068165 

Non-native and invasive species can be problematic for our native flora and fauna. How we choose to deal with them is a balance between where the science is in terms of understanding the issue, the media’s portrayal of the issue, and societal values and priorities at the time. Elke Wind, a herpetologist from Nanaimo will discuss the issue of non-native amphibian species such as the American Bullfrog from these various angles. 




Give Where You Live: Pacific Salmon Foundation, Cory Towriss 

Thursday, October 28th 

Location: Sands Funeral Home, Troy 746-5212

Tickets: Free. RSVP required. mbuttner@PSF.CA

The protection and conservation of terrestrial, marine, and fresh-water ecosystems in the Cowichan Valley should be a priority for all of us. Attend a free 1.5 hour estate planning program hosted by the Pacific Salmon Foundation and presented by Cory Towriss, a local lawyer specializing in wills and estates, to learn how a bequest in your will can ensure the sustainability of local fish, wildlife, and habitat for future generations. This presentation will be very useful for people considering conservation bequests or for conservation groups seeking to expand and improve their estate planning objectives.







A full calendar can be found here