The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a First Nations’ gallery and museum showcasing West Coast Indigenous art, culture and historical artifacts in Whistler.
This article contains the following information about the Cultural Centre:
First Nations Cultural Centre
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre has a First Nations longhouse, theatre, museum and art gallery, as well as a traditional istken building that visitors can go inside. Expect to spend about an hour at the Centre.
Located in an impressive modern building at 4584 Blackcomb Way in Whistler’s Upper Village, the centre is a cooperative project by both the local Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations.
Hours and Admission
In non-pandemic years, the Centre is usually open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in the slow season, and daily from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm in the summer. Sometimes it is open in the evenings too.
As of the last time we checked, adult admission is about $20. Seniors (ages 65+) cost $17, students (ages 13 to 18) are $7, and children (ages 6 to 12) are $5. Annual passes cost between $20 and $38 depending on your age.
Family passes are also available at about $45 for the day or $75 for the year.
The Centre hosts a First Nations BBQ on Tuesday and Sunday evenings most years from May until September. The cost in the past has been about $65 per adult and $25 for children ages 6 to 12. The dinner includes food such as fresh-baked bannock, West Coast salmon, buffalo smokies and other tasty menu items. It’s good food and a cultural experience!
Cultural Centre Video
Below is a video of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to give you an idea of what to expect. As you’ll see there is a variety of both contemporary and ancient Indigenous art as well as artifacts and cultural information. The Centre is a beautiful modern building with lots of light and windows. Not seen in the video are the outdoor exhibits which are equally as interesting.
There are usually free guided tours indoors at the Centre which are highly recommended. In the summer of 2020, an interpreter is available for tours of the outside areas only, not indoors, because of concerns about COVID-19.
Indigenous Peoples Day
Each year the Centre hosts a few special activities to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day which takes place annually on June 21st. The celebrations happen on that date or close to it.
In 2021, at 11:00 am on Sunday, June 20th, the Spo7ez Performance Team Drum Circle performed by the front doors of the Great Hall. On the same day, the Spiritual Warriors Band entertained with live music on the Mezzanine Patio starting at 1:00 pm. For the second event, the audience was limited to a maximum of 50 people. Bannock and artisan crafts were available during the performance.
On National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2021 (Monday, June 21st), the Spo7ez Performance Team Drum Circle performed once again. The drumming started at 1:00 pm this time .
The activities each year are quite similar. However, small changes are applied to differ them slightly from previous versions.
To learn more about the event in 2021, see the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre‘s website.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you get the most out of your visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
TIP #1: Definitely join one of the guided tours if you can. The interpretive tour with a First Nation staff person adds considerably to the experience.
TIP #2: The longhouse or other areas are sometimes not available for viewing due to private functions. Ask in advance if you don’t want to miss anything. The last time we visited, a movie company had rented the outdoor space for a Christmas-themed movie shoot (which explained why there are no outdoor scenes in the above video and why we saw snow and Santa Claus walking around in the middle of July).
TIP #3: Be sure to watch the film in the theatre. It’s well-done and very interesting.
TIP #4: The Centre is wheelchair-accessible.
TIP #5: Written information about the exhibits is available in a number of different languages at the front desk. Languages covered include Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.
Check out the official Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre website for more information about the facility.
For other places to learn about Indigenous culture, click Lower Mainland First Nations.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Lower Mainland History and Culture
- Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
- Stanley Park’s Totem Poles
- UBC Museum of Anthropology
- Lower Mainland Powwows
- Vancouver’s Top 100 Places
- Lower Mainland Ski Hills