Vancouver’s North Shore offers a variety of different ways to explore and celebrate local Indigenous culture! Home to the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, North Shore locales are rich with the history of the area’s first people, their vibrant art, traditions from time immemorial, and contemporary takes on all of the above!
Here are just a handful of ways you can participate, honour, and have fun with the culture of the North Shore’s Indigenous community.
Both a museum and community hub, Monova (Museum of North Vancouver) has quickly become an essential space for gathering, learning and engaging for all ages! The museum’s permanent exhibit tells of how our Indigenous community cultivated the North Shore, how things changed after contact with settlers and the many trials that occurred after. It’s a thorough and unflinching retelling of history that doesn’t attempt to wash over the often tragic events of the past. But from that honest and unbiased look at things, it informs the direction of MONOVA’s engaging events programming. Whether with a speaker series of Indigenous Elders or hands-on workshops on different Indigenous arts, this location is a wonderful space to appreciate culture and learn from the past in more ways than one.
Photo Captured by: @visitmonova
Grab an oar and push off in a traditional Tsleil-Waututh ocean-going canoe! Offering tours that span the history of local customs, Takaya Tours lets their guests navigate the lush coastlines of the Burrard Inlet (Səl̓ilw̓ət).
Aboard the 35-foot wooden vessels, you can expect to see plenty of marine life while hearing legends and songs from your guide. The company also rents kayaks if you’d like to explore at your own pace, but for the full experience, we definitely recommend the cultural tour to make the most of your time in the water!
Take to the world-famous Capilano Suspension Bridge for your next stop on the culture trail! The onsite Kia’palano educational centre outlines the deep connection between First Nations people and the park that the bridge overlooks. A gorgeous collection of story poles (commonly known as totem poles) dots the park grounds, and you can marvel at the sheer artistry of each towering piece. The pathway is wonderfully curated so that as you walk, you’ll learn about the area’s Indigenous peoples and how they used the natural bounty the forest and river below provided.
Of course, if you’re still unsure which direction to explore first, there’s always this handy arts and culture guide! The North Shore Culture Compass will help cut down on your research time so you can get out there and start exploring! From historical sites to newly installed public art, this is a comprehensive way to keep track of Indigenous art and culture as it continues to evolve.
A bike ride along the award-winning Spirit Trail is the perfect sunny day outing! Book your E-bike rental and follow the arty path that spans the waterfront, Lonsdale Quay, and several local breweries (once you’ve ended the ride, of course). Head a little further inland, and you’ll hit the Park Royal Art Walk, where you can stop and peruse local and international art while refuelling with a snack break. All along the way, you’ll pass countless pieces by Indigenous artists that you can read all about in your handy Outdoor Artwork Guide. Pack a picnic and stop for a sandwich break at any point; the views are great at just about every turn!
One of our favourite galleries to view the work of contemporary Indigenous artists, this Lower Lonsdale gallery highlights an impressive variety of voices and mediums. Featuring authentic Inuit, Northwest Coast First Nations and some Canadian art from outside BC, the programming here has been an institution since 1974. No matter your knowledge level, you’ll find something new to discover here, whether it’s senior masters taking a fresh direction with their work or new artists giving their take on an established aesthetic.
Whether you’re out to Horseshoe Bay for a day trip or you’re in transit and awaiting the next ferry sailing, Spirit Gallery is always a reliable spot to be inspired. Featuring a wide range of pieces available for purchase, it’s the perfect place to pick up gifts on the way to your next stop. If you’re looking to spruce up your home with a little local flair, this is the place to do it. Impressive works of silver, gold and copper, masks, stone carvings, sculptures, prints and clothing, no matter what you’re in the market for, you’re likely to find it.
Photo Captured by: @spiritgallerywv
For information on these indigenous activities and experiences and more on Vancouver’s North Shore, please visit vancouversnorthshore.com.