Vancouver’s North Shore sits on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. As we celebrate National Indigenous History Month, we recognize how blessed we are here to have ample opportunity to learn and understand Indigenous cultures through tours, storytelling, galleries and Indigenous activities and experiences.
Set out into Səl̓ilw̓ət (Burrard Inlet) in a 35-foot canoe styled in the tradition of a Tsleil-Waututh ocean-going canoe. While exploring the vibrant coastline, you’ll be regaled with legend, songs and stories that bring history to life. You’ll also visit important sites that have served as gathering places and villages for thousands of years.
No trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is complete without time spent at Kia’Palano educational centre where you’ll get a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people and their connection to the natural world through art, the written word and traditional totem poles and the stories they tell.
When you get hungry, there’s Mr. Bannock, the Vancouver area’s only Indigenous-run food truck. Chef Paul Natrall has been serving up Indigenous-fusion cuisine using traditional ingredients and methods of the Squamish First Nation since 2010. Think Venison Bannock Burger or the Classic Indian Taco with house chilli on fry bread with all the fixins.
Just steps from the waters of Átl’ka7tsem (Howe Sound) is the Spirit Gallery, owned and operated by Erin Sam and her husband, Squamish/Kwakwaka’wakw artist Klatle-bhi. The gallery showcases First Nations art from a number of communities and includes masks, jewelry, totem poles, sculpture and more. The staff here have remained loyal, some for decades, and are always happy to share the stories behind the art to broaden understanding.
The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver has recently moved, and you can now find it on our very own Vancouver’s North Shore, located right across the street from Lonsdale Quay Market. The gallery has featured authentic Inuit, Northwest Coast First Nations and other Canadian art from all generations of artists since 1979. You can browse the exquisite collection of jewelry, sculptures, paintings and graphics and much more in this museum-quality gallery.
MONOVA is commemorating Indigenous History Month with a slate of programs to complement their already rich offering of Indigenous stories in their permanent gallery exhibitions. There are film screenings and interactive talks that seek to showcase the North Shore’s two nations’ past and present and do it on their own terms. The month will culminate with the unveiling of new work by local artists Marissa Nahanee of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation and Zac George of Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nation.
Local Indigenous Public Art
Explore Indigenous art at your own speed with the North Shore Culture Compass. Most of the Indigenous public art on the North Shore can be found on this interactive map which includes write-ups on the artist and the significance of each piece. Highlights include the Guardian Bear Pavillion at Capilano University and the Squamish Welcome Figure that stands tall at the edge of Ambleside, a gift from the Squamish Nation that marks K’aya’chtn, where ocean canoes gather. You’ll find many pieces along the Spirit Trail, perfect for exploring on e-bikes. A half-day rental package which includes the Since Time Immemorial scavenger hunt is available here.
For more information on connecting with Indigenous culture on Vancouver’s North Shore, please visit vancouversnorthshore.com/explore/arts-culture/indigenous-experiences/.
If you or anyone you know are travelling to Vancouver’s North Shore, we advise you to travel responsibly; your travel plans affect Indigenous Peoples and the communities, waters, animals, and lands that they care for. To learn more about how you can travel more responsibly, please visit Indigenous Tourism BC.