Qwayaciiq Sam is from Ahousaht, BC, of the Nuu Chah Nulth Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island. His father, Stanley Sam, is an accomplished carver, true historian and storyteller, and a speaker for the Chiefs of the Wolf Clan, a privilege that is passed on from his Grandfather. His mother, Katie Sam, is also very talented in making traditional shawls, beadwork, drums, and preparation of the seasonal traditional foods. She has passed down many gifts of creativity to her children. Qwayaciiq feels very fortunate to have grown up immersed in the richness of his culture and he participates as a singer and a dancer. His family ties and connections with his people are very strong in his life. Qwayaciiq began making drums in 1986 for ceremonial purposes, then in 1987 was commissioned to make drums for Bill Reid, Robertson Davies, and Roy Vickers. In 1990, he was commissioned to make drums for the Inuit Gallery in Vancouver for a drum exhibit. Qwayaciiq was interviewed by BCTV when they visited Ahousaht to shoot footage for a documentary on the making of drums and their importance in cultural ceremonies.
Qwayaciiq is an accomplished painter and carver, his carving career began under the tutelage of Patrick Amos in 1991 and 1992. In 1997, Qwayaciiq and a number of other artists assisted Patrick in carving a totem pole for the Alberni District Secondary School, as well as designing and completing a mural for the Hahopayuk School in Port Alberni. Qwayaciiq’s work can be found in different collections and galleries on both the West and East coast of Canada. Some of his paddles have gone to Africa to the World AIDS Conference in 2002, and presented to Swahili Chiefs, in honor and acknowledgement of the conference. Other presentations include those to Senators from Alaska and Hawaii. His masks all have their own spirit, and bring with them generations of teachings, stories, and a wealth of culture from the Nuu Chah Nulth Nation. Qwayaciiq prefers to work with alder for it’s unique texture and his carvings often express his own spiritual journey and connection to the sacred rituals of his people. His spirit masks possess an element of gentleness that makes them truly unique. Qwayaciiq currently resides in Port Alberni.