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First Nation Talking Stick Festival

Talking Stick Festival

Taking place in February each year, the Talking Stick Festival is an annual event in Vancouver that showcases Aboriginal art and First Nation’s culture.

Talking Stick Festival

The Talking Stick Festival is an inclusive multi-day festival that’s open to the public and features storytelling, dance, music, theatre and other performing arts and cultural works by a wide range of Indigenous artists.


Information about the following 2018 events are featured in this article:

Wax hoks en Shqalawin Gala | Kwèykw`áystway Visual Arts Exhibition | Sokalo by [ZØGMA] | Map of the Land, Map of the Stars | Celebration of Powwow Culture | Métis Kitchen Party | Reel Reservations: Cinematic Indigenous Sovereignty Series | Other Festival Events

Click on any of the above links to jump to information about a specific topic, or continue reading for comprehensive details about the festival in general.


Festival in Roundhouse Great Hall
The Great Hall at the Roundhouse

Talking Stick Festival in 2018

In 2018 the Talking Stick Festival ran from February 14th to 24th in Vancouver (on the traditional un-ceded territories of the Coast Salish People). In its 17th year, the 2018 festival featured artists from across the country and events at various venues.

2018 Festival Schedule

Below is a list of just some of the events that took place during the Talking Stick Festival in 2018.

Each year many of the events take place at the Roundhouse in Yaletown, although others take place at various other venues around town.

Wax hoks en Shqalawin Gala

(February 15, 2018)

Wax hoks en Shqalawin means “Open Your Hearts” and it’s both the name and theme for the gala celebration kicking off the Talking Stick Festival for 2018. The event took place at the Roundhouse at 181 Roundhouse Mews and includes entertainment, a buffet dinner and cash bar.

The cost was $45 for adults, $35 for students and seniors, and $10 for children (ages 9 and under).

Click Wax hoks en Shqalawin for details.

Talking Stick Festival Art Display
Button Blankets by Kwagiulth artist Lou-Ann Ika’Wega Neel at the Roundhouse (2016)

Kwèykw`áystway Visual Arts Exhibition

(February 14-24, 2018)

The Kwèykw`áystway Visual Arts Exhibition happened at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall at 181 Roundhouse Mews and features a small collection of art from about a dozen local and other BC First Nations artists.

The exhibition’s Opening & Reception took place on Wednesday, February 14, at 7 pm and the exhibition itself ran February 14-24 all day every day. Admission was free.

The Kwèykw`áystway Visual Arts Exhibition is usually fairly small, but interesting. It’s worth checking out in combination with other festival events also taking place at the Roundhouse.

Click Kwèykw`áystway Visual Arts Exhibition for more details.

Talking Stick Festival Roundhouse Art Displays
Art Displays at the Roundhouse

Sokalo by [ZØGMA]

(February 16 & 18, 2018)

Sokalo was a song and dance production by Quebec-based percussion and dance company [ZØGMA] in collaboration with the Vancouver-based Louis Riel Metis Dancers.

Performances took place at the Roundhouse Performance Centre at 181 Roundhouse Mews and tickets cost $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and students, and $5 for children (ages 9 and under).

Click Sokalo by [ZØGMA] for tickets and more information.

Map of the Land, Map of the Stars

(February 20-22, 2018)

Map of the Land, Map of the Stars was a production by the Yukon-based Gwaandak Theatre Company about the impact of the Gold Rush and Alaskan Highway on connections and Indigenous culture.

The show featured drama, dancing and music and takes place at the Roundhouse.

Tickets were $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and students, and $5 for children (ages 9 and under).

Click Map of the Land, Map of the Stars for tickets and more information.

Celebration of Powwow Culture

(February 24, 2018)

The Celebration of Powwow Culture event at the Talking Stick Festival presented a display of both contemporary and traditional First Nations dance as well as a market featuring  art, crafts and food.

The Powwow took place on Saturday, February 24, from noon until 5 pm at the Roundhouse Gymnasium at 181 Roundhouse Mews. Admission is “Pay-What-You-Can.”

Click Talking Stick Powwow for more information.

Powwow in Roundhouse Gymnasium
Talking Stick Powwow at the Roundhouse Gymnasium

Métis Kitchen Party

(February 18, 2018)

The Métis Kitchen Party featured live fiddle entertainment, traditional Métis crafts and a small vendor market. It took place on Sunday, February 18, from 1 to 4 pm at the Roundhouse Performance Centre at 181 Roundhouse Mews. Admission is “Pay-What-You-Can.”

Click Metis Fair for more information.

Reel Reservations: Cinematic Indigenous Sovereignty Series

Reel Reservations was a series of Indigenous films that show over the course of the festival. Unless otherwise stated, screenings took place at the Vancity Theatre at 1181 Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver. A Question & Answer session followed each screening.

Movies in 2018 are listed below. Note: Times and details are subject to change.

Thursday, February 22, at 1 pm

  • Colonization Road – featuring the journey through Ontario by Anishinaabe activist and comedian Ryan McMahon. In the 49-minute film McMahon addresses questions about reconciliation and decolonization. Tickets cost $13 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 for youth (ages 18 and under).

Thursday, February 22, at 7:30 pm

  • Cəsnaʔəm: The City Before the City – a film about the local Musqueam First Nation learning about the planning of a large condo development being built on the site of their 4000-year-old ancestral village known as c̓ əsnaʔəmin. Tickets were $13 for adults, $11 for students and seniors, and $9 for youth (ages 18 and under).

Friday, February 23, at 1 pm

  • The Road Forward – a musical documentary by Marie Clements about First Nations’ civil rights. Tickets cost $13 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 for youth (ages 18 and under).

Friday, February 23, at 7 pm

  • Shorts – a series of short films produced by both Canadian and local Turtle Island Indigenous film producers. Admission was pay-as-you-can (i.e., by donation). Unlike most other films in the Reel Reservations Series, this one took place at the Vancity Culture Lab at 1895 Venables Street.

Saturday, February 24, at 7 pm

Closing Night of the Talking Stick Festival featured the following two films at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at 149 West Hastings Street (so not at the Vancity Theatre):

  • Holy Angels – a 13-minute film about a residential school in rural Alberta.
  • Birth of a Family – a 79-minute film about four Canadian Indigenous siblings removed from their Dene mother and separated across the continent in the 1960s.

The cost for both films was $13 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $9 for youth ages 18 and under). Click Closing Night Films for tickets and more information.

Other Festival Events

Above are just some of the events that took place during the Talking Stick Festival in 2018. Other events included everything from educational talks to night life activities. Truly it’s a diverse festival with something for everyone!

First Nations Storytelling at Vancouver Library

Other Information

For more details on the above and other festival events, see the Talking Stick Festival website or click 2018 Festival Guide.

For other opportunities to experience First Nation’s culture, including the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival at the Museum of Anthropology in early March, see First Nations in the Lower Mainland.