Toni Frank (Shahtle Mult) comes from the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw People. She is Shíshálh (Sechelt) and K’ómoks (Comox). Toni was born and raised on K’ómoks Traditional Territory overlooking the Puntledge River estuary in the Comox Valley, and grew up near the K’ómoks Big House that is used for all kinds of ceremonies and community functions.
Toni’s family were her mentors and they taught her to appreciate all types of cultural arts and crafts. “My dad is my biggest inspiration, he is my everything, he is my hero. I used to sit and watch him for hours while he drew. Dad is an artist, he can draw the real-life form, he painted, he’s done carvings.
Toni started dabbling in cedar bark around 1994 when the I’Hos canoe was built. “We started off doing head bands because we wanted the pullers to have pieces of regalia as they went.”
She stripped her first cedar tree in 1997 on Cortes Island when her partner was building a canoe in the bush for his people. “When I go into the bush to cedar strip, for some people it might be just a couple hour thing, but I spend the whole day. I take the time to sit under the cedar trees, have my thoughts and prayers, clear my mind. I pray to the cedar trees, I thank the cedars trees for what they are going to give me, and I always leave an offering.”