For thousands of years, Vancouver and surrounding regions have been the ancestral home of many First Nations communities - and their powerful influence remains prolific today. Here are a few ways to explore the city's rich First Nations culture:
- Browse exquisite sculptures, jewelry and textiles at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art - and don't miss The Raven's Call, a virtual exhibit dedicated entirely to acclaimed First Nations artist Bill Reid.
- Soak in stunning architecture and thousands of artifacts at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. Currently, the cavernous museum plays host to c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city - a comprehensive exploration of the Musqueam's early history and lifestyle, coordinated in partnership with The Musqueam First Nation and the Museum of Vancouver.
- Stay at the exquisite Skwachàys Lodge, a boutique Aboriginal arts hotel. Each room was designed by First Nations artists who collaborated with six interior design firms, all of which donated services to transform the artists' visions into reality.
- Snap photos of yourself standing among Stanley Park's totem pole forest. Afterward, take time to explore this 400-hectare rainforest's leafy trails, sandy beaches, and wealth of cultural and historic landmarks. (Hint: if you can find it, Beaver Lake is one of the city's most tranquil and zen-inducing hidden gems.)
- Chat with the foliage in Stanley Park with Talaysay Tours' Talking Trees Tour. The two-kilometre jaunt conveys cultural and scientific information about the Northwest Coast's greenery, and explains how Aboriginal people still gather and harvest these flora for medicine, art and technology.
- View North America's largest private collection of totem poles at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. In summer, guides provide insight about the poles as well as First Nations history and culture.
- Join Takaya Tours for a canoe or kayak journey across the calm waters of Indian Arm. Along the way, you'll learn about the culture and history of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation while exploring the region's rich marine coastlines.
- Dine at Salmon n' Bannock Bistro. Owned and operated by Aboriginal staff, the restaurant boasts a delectable menu showcasing First Nations cuisine and vino. For more ideas, visit www.aboriginalbc.com.