A powwow is a celebration and gathering of First Nations and provides an exceptional opportunity for the public to experience Indigenous culture.
LANGLEY POW WOW IN SEPTEMBER
The Stɑl’əw̓ Pow Wow takes place at the Langley Events Centre on September 15th to 17th in 2023. It’s one of the Lower Mainland’s biggest events of its kind. Admission costs $10 per day or $20 for the full weekend. Children under the age of 6 get in for free, however, as do participating drummers, dancers, singers and pageant contestants.
At the event there is singing, dancing and drumming as well as Indigenous artisan vendors.
See the stalewpowwow.ca website for tickets and full details about the event.
Powwows in the Lower Mainland
Various First Nations bands hold powwows that are open to the public in the Metro Vancouver area.
The festivities usually include traditional dancing, art, music, food, market stalls and the wearing of traditional and ceremonial dress. Powwows are educational, entertaining, beautiful and culturally significant events.
Squamish Nation Youth Powwow
The Squamish Nation Youth Powwow is an annual event that takes place at the Capilano Reserve Park at 100 Mathias Road which is in West Vancouver but accessed via Capilano Road in North Vancouver. The event is open to the public and all are welcome.
Activities at the West Vancouver Powwow include Indigenous dance competitions, a salmon BBQ and vendors selling Aboriginal art, crafts, souvenirs and artisan products. There are also food vendors serving Indian tacos, barbecued salmon, bannock and other refreshments.
In 2023 the event happens on July 14th to 16th. See our article about the Squamish Nation Youth Powwow for more information.
Spirit of the People Powwow
Another exceptional powwow in the Lower Mainland used to be the Spirit of the People Powwow. In past recent years the event has happened in mid-summer at the Tzeachten Sports Field at 46770 Bailey Road in Chilliwack. The event is highly recommended and the general public is warmly welcomed.
In past years the Spirit of the People Powwow has taken place over a weekend in the summer. It has featured dance competitions, drumming, a fashion show and all kinds of wonderful and culturally-rich things to see and experience. In 2019, however, it happened on the Family Day weekend of February 16-17 at Chilliwack Secondary School.
In 2020 it happened at the same venue on the Saturday and Sunday of the Family Day Weekend (so February 15th and 16th). It usually takes place indoors at Chilliwack Secondary School which is located at 46363 Yale Road in Chilliwack.
This event may or may not take place again in the future. Details are to be confirmed.
Talking Stick Festival
The Talking Stick Festival is a culture event in February each year. It features films, artisan markets, art displays and various other cultural activities. On a weekend during the festival there is also usually an indoor Powwow in the gym at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown.
To see what to expect at the Powwow at the Talking Stick Festival check out the following video.
In 2023 the events happen between June 1st and June 30th. To learn more about the festival, see our article about the Talking Stick Festival.
Hoobiyee is a celebration of the Nisga’a New Year. It takes place at the PNE Forum most years in February. It isn’t exactly a powwow in the traditional sense of the word. And it’s not put on by one of Vancouver’s local Indigenous nations. As an event, however, it is similar to a powwow in a number of ways.
Hoobiyee is a gathering of people from the Nisga’a Nation (which is from the Nass River Valley in northwestern BC). People from other Indigenous Nations also participate. The general public is also invited to attend. Similar celebrations take place within the traditional territories of the Nisga’a Nation. A fair number of Nisga’a people also live in the Lower Mainland, which explains why the festivities take place here as well.
The following video shows what you can expect at Hoobiyee. As you’ll see there is dancing, singing and drumming (similar to what you’ll find at powwows). It is a most interesting cultural event and highly recommended.
To learn more, see our article about Nisga’a First Nation Hoobiyee Celebrations in Vancouver.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your powwow experience.
TIP #1: If you’ve never been to a First Nations’ Powwow, you should go. They are most interesting cultural events.
TIP #2: Take your lawn chair and camera, plus a bit of money for some tasty bannock at the concession or First Nations’ art and souvenirs at the various market stalls.
TIP #3: The Squamish Nation Youth Powwow takes place on Vancouver’s North Shore. Places of interest not too far away include Ambleside Park and North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale district. Up the hill from the powwow venue are also Capilano River Regional Park, the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain. The Shipyards Night Market also takes place on Friday evenings in the summer. Check out some of these other places too while in the area.
TIP #4: Chilliwack and the Tzeachten Sports Field are about halfway between Cultus Lake and Harrison Hot Springs, both of which are beautiful lake resort communities less than a 30-minute drive from the Spirit of the People Powwow (in years when it takes place in Chilliwack). If it’s a sunny day, consider combining a trip to one of these two popular tourist destinations with your visit to the powwow.
To learn about the event in West Vancouver, check out our article about the Squamish Nation Youth Pow Wow.
For more information on places to experience First Nations culture in the Lower Mainland, click First Nations in the Lower Mainland.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following: