It all started when Carolyn and René had this great idea for a millenium project...
Growing up on opposite sides of Canada - Ontario and Vancouver Island - it wasn't until René and Carolyn (Olsen- Phillips) Cusson met and were eventually married that they discovered their common dream. Having both had many wonderful learning experiences at Highland music and dance camps in their early years, they each wanted someday to host a summer school similar to those they had experienced as children.
As a millennium project, Carolyn and René began organizing this endeavour under the banner of "The Pacific Institute of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts"-- intending to keep it a small piping and dancing camp. In a matter of weeks, word got out in other related Celtic communities. Irish dance communities approached then, then a Celtic harp group, followed by "alternative" piping groups. The concept of a comprehensive Celtic performing arts program was born, in a magnitude they never thought possible for a first year. With four months lead time, they hosted 145 participants at their inaugural camp at Shawnigan Lake School. Eventually dubbed "CeltFest", the event has grown to host an average of over 300 participants annually from 17 countries. More than 2,000 people attend the performance events.
Carolyn and René have been both the principals and main financial sponsors of CeltFest over the first decade. Beginning in 2008, they formed a co-operative partnership with District 5050 Pipe Band Society to help support CeltFest Summer School. Future plans include the formation of a Society to govern and support the Festival and a public community outreach and development project--as the concerts and public events have grown significantly over the years.
As founders, Carolyn and Rene soon learned that that CeltFest Vancouver Island as we know it would not have got off the ground were it not for the efforts of so many! They are deeply grateful for their Advisory Board and scores of volunteers who come forward to make CeltFest the spectacular event it has become. Together with the unfailing professionalism of CeltFest artists and instructors who continually give the committee input, and the sponsors who contribute generously, the dream of CeltFest Vancouver Island has exceeded their wildest dreams.
2009-2011 Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC
2008 Nanaimo & Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC
2006-2007 Parksville, Vancouver Island, BC
2005 Parksville & Mill Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
2001-2004 Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island, BC