Home Vancouver Monthly Calendar 2020 Festivals and Events in Vancouver First Nation Talking Stick Festival

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 Indigenous 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. In 2020 it takes place on February 18th to 29th.


Information about the following events is featured in this article:

Wax hoks en Shqalawin Gala | Visual Arts Exhibition | Celebration of Indigenous Dance | Métis Fair | Reel Reservations Films | 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 2020

In 2020 the Talking Stick Festival runs from February 18th to February 29th in Vancouver (on the traditional un-ceded territories of the Coast Salish People). In its 19th year, the 2020 festival feature artists from across the country and events at various venues.

Festival Schedule

Below is a list of events on the 2020 schedule.

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 20, 2020)

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 2020. The event takes place at the Roundhouse at 181 Roundhouse Mews and includes entertainment and a buffet dinner.

The cost is $45 for adults and $35 for students and seniors (plus service charges).

Click Wax hoks en Shqalawin for details.

Talking Stick Festival Art Display
Button Blankets by Kwagiulth artist Lou-Ann Ika’Wega Neel

Chén̓chenstway: Rising – Visual Arts Exhibition

(February 18 to 29, 2020)

Each year there is a Visual Arts Exhibition at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall at 181 Roundhouse Mews. It usually features a small collection of art from about a dozen or so local and other BC First Nations artists.

A Curator Talk takes place on Tuesday, February 22nd, at 1 pm. The exhibition itself runs from February 18th to 29th all day every day. Admission is free (as it is every year).

The 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.

Talking Stick Festival Roundhouse Art Displays
Art Displays at the Roundhouse

Celebration of Indigenous Dance

(February 23, 2020)

Called the Celebration of Powwow Culture a couple of years ago, the Talking Stick Festival’s 2020 Celebration of Indigenous Dance event presents a display of both contemporary and traditional First Nations dances as well as a market featuring art, crafts and food.

Featured in 2019 were performances by the Kwakwakwa’wakw Urban Dance Group, Eastern Sky Ambassadors, Oceanside Dakota, Immigrant Lessons and other local Turtle Island groups. 2020 details are to be announced.

The event takes place on Saturday, February 23rd, from noon until 5 pm at the Roundhouse Gymnasium at 181 Roundhouse Mews. Admission is “Pay-What-You-Can.”

For details about the event click 2020 Celebration of Indigenous Dance.

Powwow in Roundhouse Gymnasium
Talking Stick Powwow at the Roundhouse Gymnasium

Métis Fair

(February 29, 2020)

The Métis Fair features live music, entertainment by the Louis Riel Métis Dancers, traditional Métis crafts and a small vendor market. It takes place on Saturday, February 29, from 12 to 4 pm at the Roundhouse Performance Centre at 181 Roundhouse Mews. Admission is “Pay-What-You-Can” (i.e., by donation.)

See the 2020 Metis Fair for more information.

Reel Reservations Films

Reel Reservations is a series of Indigenous films that show over the course of the festival. Movies in 2020 are listed below.

(Note: attendees of the films must be members of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). If not already a member, the cost for an annual membership is about $2).

Dates and times of the films are subject to change. See the official website for details.

Tuesday, February 25 (2020)

On this day there is a double-feature being presented at Vancity Theatre. The Coyote Way: (Going) Back Home shows first at 7 pm then FUKRY shows at around 7:30 pm. Tickets for the double-feature presentation are $13 for adults and $11 for students and seniors (plus service charges).

  • The Coyote Way: (Going) Back Home – a 30-minute long film about a boy, Charlie, who has to make a choice between joining a gang or going on a pilgrimage.
  • FUKRY – directed by Blackhorse Lowe, this film is about Ching Yazzie and her group of friends navigating life and romance.

Thursday, February 27 (2020)

  • The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw – directed by Shelley Niro, it’s a film about a 25 year old, Mitzi, who returns to her reserve to take care of her sick mother. Tickets cost $8-$15 (plus service fees). The screening takes place at the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema at 149 West Hastings Street.

In addition to the above, there is also a fourth film, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, which is about the Canadian government pressuring an Inuit band to assimilate their children and give up their way of life. It is for school groups, however, and not open to the general public.

Other Festival Events

Above are just some of the events that take place during the Talking Stick Festival in 2020. Other events include 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 2020 Festival Guide.

For other opportunities to experience First Nation’s culture, including the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival in February or March, see First Nations in the Lower Mainland.