The Lower Mainland is the traditional territory of local First Nations including the Squamish, Tsawwassen, Semiahmoo, Stó:lō and other Indigenous nations.
Vancouver itself is located on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations. The entire region is rich in their culture and history.
To learn about Canada’s past regarding its First Nations people, and ways to move forward, we encourage everyone to read the Truth and Reconciliation Report and its recommendations. See the TRC.ca website for details.
Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland are on the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Musqueam, Hwlitsum, Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, and Stó:lō Nations.
Below are some of the best places to experience First Nations art, culture and history in Vancouver. It’s not a complete list, but it’s a start.
- Hoobiyee – celebrations of the Nisga’a New Year. The event includes traditional storytelling, singing and dancing at the PNE Forum in February.
- Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art – an exceptional place for First Nations art.
- Coastal First Nations Dance Festival – an Indigenous dance festival in late February or early March.
- Museum of Anthropology – a museum at UBC featuring First Nations art. Totems and other anthropological artifacts and information are also present.
- Osprey Festival – a small nature and Indigenous-themed event. The festival celebrates the life of Chief Dan George, who was a famous Canadian actor, activist and local First Nation’s leader.
- Sasquatch Days – a festival in Harrison Hot Springs. The event includes war canoe races, a salmon BBQ and local aboriginal cultural performances in June.
- Stanley Park’s Totem Poles – a collection of Indigenous art in the southeast corner of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
- Talking Stick Festival – a First Nations festival featuring indigenous art and performances in February.
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre – located in the Upper Village at Whistler, the centre includes a Lil’wat Istken and Squamish Longhouse, theatre, archival museum and contemporary gallery.
First Nations Powwows
There are also various powwows and other First Nations events throughout the Lower Mainland. The Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack and Squamish Nation Youth Powwow on the North Shore in the summer are two such examples. Both are open to the public.
Click Lower Mainland Powwows for more information.
For more on First Nations events in the Lower Mainland and throughout BC, check out the Aboriginal Tourism BC website.
Other articles that may be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver History and Culture
- Festivals & Events Calendar
- Vancouver’s 100 Best Places
- National Indigenous Peoples Day
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation