Carver Rupert Scow is holding classes at the Brain Injury Society and will be a featured guest at a fundraiser Gala on Sept. 21. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Carving in Cowichan provided road to recovery for stroke victim

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to get out of bed or walk, let alone carve”

Three years after suffering a devastating stroke, Rupert Scow is well on the way to recovery.

“I think I’m 50 per cent of the way there,” suggested the 62-year-old Scow who is originally from the village of Gwayasdums on Gilford Island but now calls the Cowichan Valley home.

The stroke left him paralyzed on his right side, career-threatening since he is naturally right-handed.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to get out of bed or walk, let alone carve,” says Scow who comes from a long line of carvers and respected elders and has been creating works rooted in his culture for more than 25 years.

He persevered, often using his left hand when his right side was refusing to cooperate.

“A physiotherapist and my doctor said you can regain most of your strength as long as you keep trying. It’s a work in progress.”

These days, Scow can often be found at Let’s Connect, a facility being operated by the Cowichan Brain Injury Society on Banks Road. He’s teaching carving to others who have suffered a brain injury of some type and he’s also working on a totem pole he began in 2012.

It has been a long journey but Scow is determined to finish the piece that honours his family, known as Kwicksuitaineuk or The People of the Bear.

The totem will include a double-headed sea serpent, two salmon and a family crest.

“A friend showed me the log and I said we should do a carving. He helped me in the beginning but began to suffer from arthritis, so I carried on. Until the stroke.”

Scow says the motivation to return to carving was an integral part of his healing process and now he expects the totem to be finished in about two months.

“My driving force was to get back to carving.”

Scow will be a featured guest at the Brain Injury Gala being held at Eagles Hall on Sept. 21.

For more information and to order tickets for this fundraiser, call 250-748-2133 or send email to

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