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first nations

Hot Dining: First Nations Fare at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre

Photo by Sheri Radford

Fluffy fried bannock enclosing thinly sliced smoked salmon, served with salad of crunchy red cabbage, carrot, sunflower seeds and bell pepper in a maple-syrup dressing…food for the gods! The elegant-but-unnamed little eatery at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre whips up West Coast First Nations cuisine with a contemporary flair and serves it cafeteria-style for a snappy patio lunch. When you tour the centre, named for the two cultures it celebrates, leave time to taste a simple-but-superb salmon or venison dish created by chefs Theodora Sam and Ken Wright. Pair it with xusem, a cool drink made from the soapberries found all over Lil’wat territory and served free.—Louise Phillips

British Columbia’s First Nations Totem Poles


Totem poles at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (Photo: Adam Jones)

The iconic Coastal Mountains may dominate the west coast skyline, but the landscape includes another native attraction: indigenous totem poles, original to this part of North America. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Learn About Totem Poles in New Book

Discovering Totem Poles: A Guide for Travelers by Aldona Jonaitis

Are totem poles worshipped as sacred by Natives? How old are most of the totem poles still in existence? These are just a couple of the questions answered in Discovering Totem Poles: A Traveler’s Guide by Aldona Jonaitis ($19.95; Douglas & McIntyre). Focusing on specific poles in Vancouver, Seattle, Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and Alaska, the book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Native legends and lore. At bookstores, or order it online, below.—Sheri Radford

Olde Tyme Adventures

The “Gateway to the Rockies” exhibit at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies provides insights into the origins of tourism that visitors can use to enrich their present day mountain experiences.

By Meredith Bailey

The history of the Canadian Rockies reads like an epic adventure rich with hidden treasure, daring acts of bravery, forward thinking mavericks and passionate conservationists.

While in Banff, visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies’ new exhibition Gateway to the Rockies that showcases our region’s starring players and pivotal moments. And don’t forget that Canadian Rockies heritage remains alive and well. Indeed, today’s favourite hikes, historic buildings, interpretive tours and works of art are steeped in tradition. Armed with the knowledge of Then, take the next step and discover what you can do Now! (more…)

6 Must-See Quebec City Museums


Maison Chevalier (Photo: genevieve.ducret)

Quebec is one of Canada’s oldest cities, founded in 1608, and arguably the best preserved, so doing at least one museum on your trip here is essential. Explore French-Canadian and native history, art and even 17th-century medical technology at these fascinating museums in a fascinating city. At the very least, they can provide a respite from the summer heat! (more…)

Inside the Piikani Nation Powwow


Photo: Alina Seagal

The Piikani First Nation is a small reserve in the corner of southern Alberta. In the wide-open Prairies countryside between Lethbridge and Waterton Lakes National Park, it’s no prime tourist destination, but thousands flock to it for the annual powwow. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Flip-Flops by Claudia Alan

AYA flip-flop by Claudia Alan

Summer days aren’t too far away. Give your tootsies a treat with a pair of AYA flip-flops by Claudia Alan. The Canadian company adorned its comfy rubber-soled sandals with frog and raven motifs by local First Nations artist Corrine Hunt, who designed the medals for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter  Games. Now that’s what we call a winning combination. Available at www.claudiaalanstore.com. —Kristina Urquhart

Hot Art: Abundance Fenced by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

"Abundance Fenced" by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. Photo by KK Law

Vancouver’s public-art scene just got a little edgier with “Abundance Fenced” (pictured) by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. The First Nations artist fuses Northwest Coast motifs with Japanese graphics, which he’s dubbed “Haida manga.” The sculpture, atop a retaining wall at the Knight Street and 33rd Avenue intersection, depicts orcas pursuing salmon and is inspired by the bountiful Fraser River salmon run of 2010.—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Dates: Rex Homan

"Snowy Owl" by Rex Homan

March 31 to April 21

Aboriginal art aficionados and avian enthusiasts alike will appreciate the 33 graphic carvings in Rex Homan: Raven Dreaming at Spirit Wrestler Gallery. Homan, a New Zealand Maori artist, pays tribute to the Canadian birds that play a role in Northwest Coast First Nations mythology and tradition (“Snowy Owl,” pictured).—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Art: Northwest Coast Cool

"Raven and Light Bentwood Box" by Kevin Cranmer

Be sure to add a visit to a First Nations art gallery to your must-see-in-Vancouver list. At Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery, you’ll find gorgeous examples of fine sculpture and totem poles. You can also preview the spring show Cranmer + Gray: A dual exhibition, which highlights the regional and creative differences between Tsimshian artist Philip Gray and Kwakwaka’wakw carver Kevin Cranmer (“Raven and Light Bentwood Box,” pictured).—Kristina Urquhart

Hot Dining: Keriwa Café’s Canadian Identity

photo by Alexandra Grigorescu

It’s a bit of a cliché that most citizens of this country are defined by a hyphenated identity—you’re Italian-Canadian, or Polish-Canadian, or even, in the case of Keriwa Café chef-owner Aaron Joseph Bear Robe, Aboriginal-Canadian. The Alberta native, son of a Blackfoot father and Scotch-Nova Scotian mother, fittingly combines the influences of his heritage at his Parkdale restaurant, in seasonal and locally sourced dishes that do modern justice to time-tested culinary traditions. While First Nations staples like bison pemmican with red fife fry bread ($14) are on offer, don’t head into this woodsy-chic dining room expecting an exclusively (and anachronistically) “Native” experience. Order up possible mains like rainbow trout with dill gnocchi ($23) or duck with rutabaga and quince ($25), too, and enjoy an encompassing taste of Canadian-ness.

Hot Art: Culture at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC

"Coke Salish" by Sonny Assu

Memory Test

In A Green Dress: Objects, Memory, and the Museum (to Feb. 12), the Museum of Anthropology explores the memories of cultural communities with pieces such as First Nations artist Sonny Assu’s thought-provoking take on the iconic Coca-Cola sign (“Coke Salish,” pictured).—Kristina Urquhart
More information:

MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY AT UBC Tu 10 am-9 pm, W-Su 10 am-5 pm. $14, s/s $12, family $35. $7 on Tu from 5 pm-9 pm. 6393 N.W. Marine Dr. 604-822-5087. www.moa.ubc.ca