sheep heading to barn at sunset Paige Green Photography

About Us

Vancouver Island Fibreshed, situated upon unceded traditional Indigenous territories, links farmers, processors, makers, and consumers in creating a local textile economy based on renewable resources and climate beneficial farming methods.

What is Vancouver Island Fibreshed?

Vancouver Island Fibreshed (VIF) is based on the California Fibershed, the model that is spreading throughout North America, Europe and Australia.

Like a water shed or food shed, VIF is a geographical region that encompasses Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

Within VIF, local farms and forests produce the raw materials (cedar, fleece, hemp, flax, hides and more). Farmers may also grow dye materials and other related items.  Raw fibres and materials are processed within VIF into roving, yarns, baskets, and other items for sale. Local makers use the yarns, dye materials, and so on to make finished garments for the retail market (local, online and export) creating a sustainable economic loop. We also support non-textile uses of locally produced fibres.

Our History

How did Vancouver Island Fibershed get started?

In 2015 and 2017, Courtenay hosted two weekend events, organized by Pieces: Celebrating Textiles. The first event, in 2015 introduced issues related to slow cloth, ethical trade and the perils of fast fashion. This was followed in 2017 with Back to the Fibre, a wonderful weekend that explored indigenous fibres and the makers (indigenous and non-indigenous) who work with them traditionally and in more contemporary ways. This was interspersed with a wide variety of fibre arts, providing for a wonderful weekend of learning and sharing.

Lynda Drury, who produced both events, along with an amazing volunteer team, was inspired by Amy Crook, to harness the energy and learning from these events and turn it into something along the lines of the California Fibershed. Lynda and Amy found the funds, partners, and farmers to make this happen.

The Comox Valley Women’s Institute (CVWI), formerly known as the Lazo WI, immediately jumped on board with matching funds to help them apply for a grant that would enable VIF to network with local sheep, alpaca and llama farmers.  This research produced an inventory and assessment of the key fibre animal stocks within the VIF. This research project was funded in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Government of British Columbia through the Agri-Food Futures Fund (program delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.).

Through 2018 and 2019, VIF produced and participated in a number of events, most notably the Getting Fleeced or Getting Value workshop held in Merville in February 2019. While the Vancouver Island Fibreshed organization was quiet for a few years, our local partners and producers were not. Starting in 2022, an energetic new team started working to reinvigorate the local organization. Look for our Quarterly Newsletter highlighting local activities, events, and leaps forward in the use of local fibres.

The Vancouver Island Fibreshed is an Affiliate of the California Fibershed.

VIF has benefited so much from all the learning and hard work that has gone into developing the California Fibreshed model. We call them the mother ship! VIF has become an affiliate. We are very grateful for the webinars, the template that this website was developed from, the support as well as the connections with other affiliates. With so much thoughtful work already done, we didn’t need to start from scratch.

The beauty of this model is that each Fibreshed has their own attributes and develops according to their particular needs. For example, we want to include fibre makers that work with recycled materials that they have found within the fibreshed. Those materials likely didn’t originate here but they are being reused and given a longer life span.

Thank you to our local supporters that joined us as soon as we put a call out on Go Fund Me. These wonderful people and businesses became members and contributed to the foundation of the Vancouver Island Fibreshed. Their generosity gave us the extra money we needed to come up with enough matching funds for the research project and money to put together promotion materials and all of the basics that were needed to launch an island-wide organization. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.