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  • Writer's pictureDean Nelson, (he/him) CTC, LLD

Indigenous Tourism - Explore BC

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Did you know that the Province of British Columbia is home to 203 indigenous communities each with their own unique traditions and history? And the province has six diverse regions all offering extensive authentic First Nations experiences?

The indigenous communities have over 30 different languages and close to 60 dialects spoken in the province.

British Columbia is rich with indigenous history with world renown galleries, museums and cultural sites. In March 2017 BC archeologists discovered ruins of an ancient settlement in the traditional Heiltsuk Nation territory dating back 14,000 years. The discovery was important as it reaffirmed a lot of the oral history the indigenous people had passed down for thousands of years.

This discover is also significant in that it shows that British Columbia and North America had been inhabited for thousands of years. There is evidence of impressive technology used as well as the harmonious nature in which they lived.

As you Explore BC a wonderful tool to enhance your travels is the Indigenous Tourism BC App now available on Apple App Store and Google Play.

The App features include:

• Listings of authentic Indigenous experiences, activities, and attractions

• Interactive map that lets you find places to stay and things to do near your location

• Accommodations listings

• Itineraries

• Indigenous language translations–learn common words and phrases

• Indigenous songs, stories, and legends

• Curate a list of “Favourites”, then use it to help plan your trip

• Updated business information–which Indigenous businesses have opened and which are still closed due to COVID-19

Click here to learn more about self planning your Indigenous BC adventure or click here for a consultation.

Your indigenous learning opportunities and travel possibilities are limitless. Accommodations and experiences to suit every traveller, from urban dining experiences, art galleries, and boutique hotels to wildlife tours, hands-on workshops, and oceanside campsites.

Must See Indigenous Attractions

The Squamish Lil'wat Culture Centre (SLCC) - Whistler

Kayáchtn / Ḱalhwá7acw / Welcome to the traditional territories of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Lil̓wat7úl 

The SLCC was built for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bring two of the nations together to celebrate and share their unique cultures with the world to inspire understanding and respect amongst all people. The hope that by visiting the Cultural Centre, is that you will embrace this vision and live by it. Click here to learn more.

Feel your heart beat in time to the drum as you're welcomed in traditional song by people from the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations.

Learn about the traditions of the ancient Salish people through their songs and stories. Hear stories which have been passed down through generations, like the tale of how thunder and lightning were made by a majestic bird and a killer whale. Taste delicious First Nations-inspired cuisine at the Thunderbird Café. Savour a bowl of salmon chowder or a smoked salmon bannock panini.

Bill Reid Gallery - Vancouver

The Bill Reid Gallery was named after the acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid (1920 – 1998) who was a master goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer, broadcaster and spokesman.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the Gallery is home to the Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Collection and special exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous Art of the Northwest Coast of North America.

The Bill Reid Gallery is Canada's only public gallery dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Art of the Northwest Coast. Click here to learn more.

Haida Heritage Centre - Kay Llnagaay (Skidegate Landing on Haida Gwaii)

The Haida Heritage Centre at Ḵay Llnagaay is an award-winning Aboriginal cultural tourism attraction located on Haida Gwaii, on British Columbia’s Northwest coast.

Through the Ḵay Llnagaay Heritage Centre they celebrate the living culture of the Haida people. Through their language, art and stories they share their relationship with the land and sea- that which shapes, nourishes, and sustains them.

Ḵay Llnagaay protects and fosters Haida culture by reaffirming their traditions and beliefs, encouraging artistic expression and serving as a keeper of all that they are. Ḵay Llnagaay is a place for the Haida voice to be heard. This is their gift to the world. Click here to learn more.

Aboriginal journeys - Campbell River, Vancouver Island

Aboriginal Journeys offers awe-inspiring Grizzly Bear Watching,  Whale Watching, Marine Wildlife Viewing and Adventure Tours from Campbell River on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Campbell River and area, is one of the most beautiful and breath-taking places found anywhere on earth. The locally born Tour Guides have a minimum of 40 years experience working and traveling within the coastal waters of British Columbia.  

Click here to learn more

The Osoyoos Indian Band welcomes you to their Desert Cultural Center, where you will discover the stories, people, art and history of the area. Explore indoor and outdoor cultural and nature exhibits. Discover the desert ecology and wildlife in “Critter Corner” and “Living Land” displays. Hear the legends of Sen’klip (Coyote) in two multi-sensory theatres. Click here to learn more.

Nk’Mip Cellars is the first Indigenous-owned and-operated winery in North America. Explore our heritage and our commitment to making quality VQA wines by enjoying a selection of wines from our Winemaker’s Series and our premium Qwam Qwmt (which translates to “achieving excellence”) reserve. 

The Nk'mip Cellars were designed by Robert MacKenzie, a Penticton-based architect with a passion for celebrating the Okanagan character and advancing sustainable practices. The Cellars are as much about the people who visit and tour it as the building itself, offering a memorable and pleasurable experience that provides a powerful insight into our way of life. Nestled in our vineyard overlooking the town of Osoyoos, the Cellars include a world-class restaurant offering a locally sourced and lavishly prepared menu enjoyed on our expansive patio and enhanced by spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills. Click here to learn more.

Interested in having your own curated Explore BC Indigenous experience? Click here to set up a consultation today.

I acknowledge my place of work is within the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish nations. BC Reg. #2806 - Personal Travel Management, an Ensemble Travel Partner


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