Marika Swan

Marika Swan (Tla-o-qui-aht Nation)

I feel like my father’s generation fought really hard to reverse a lot of the stigma and shame that was put on them through the residential school system, and I think about my father as a little boy, no one was allowed to practice our culture openly or speak our language… and I feel so lucky…. I never had to experience those things – the legacy that they left us in terms of the healing that they did during their lifetime offered us such a different experience…

But it also is this really difficult position where we‘ve been born into this culture, this wider society that is of complete opposite values to the values that I feel are being passed down from my father’s generation. So all the things that I believe to true and believe to be right and just are the complete opposite of how the broader society lives our live, and just what that feels like to my generation I think is what that piece is about. – Marika Swan, 2013

burial box/totem with ocean and mountains behind
My Blood is Not for Sale by Marika Swan
Indigenious man in ceremonial clothes
Logblessing by Marika Swan

My name given to me at birth is Ahma-noos-uck-suup (woman from the rocks where the loons swim). I was born out in the wilds of the westcoast, on an island, on the beach, in a spot where we used to bring the whales in. Northern lights stretched out into the north the night before I came into this world. My first memory is sitting with my mother and father as he slept. Dawn was breaking and my mom was chewing up almonds and feeding them to me from the palm of her hand. I can close my eyes and see the vivid colours of daybreak mixed with sweet, nutty flavours.

I enjoy exploring a wide range of creative outlets including writing, beadwork, print media, and carving. I am currently running Inkwis Arts and Culture, a hub in Tofino, Tla-o-qui-aht Territory which provides space for artists and various community projects. I believe deeply in a profound relationship with the land that I come from and a responsibility to its survival, health, and freedom.

Find out more about Marika and her projects at

Marika Swan Artist’s Statement:

I use my art as a method to lift my own layers to find a deeper understanding and truth. This series of prints explores the struggles we face as the cultural values passed down to us clash against our need to survive in today’s world.

Marika Swan Speaks: