Explore Canada

hero
Experience in Vancouver
Arts & Culture Indigenous

Exploring First Nations Art in Vancouver

In recent years the acknowledgment of Vancouver sitting on the unceded land of three local Nations (the Musqueam, the Squamish, and the Tseil-Waututh) has opened the city up to really embracing the arts, the story, and the cultures of Canada’s aboriginals – through art in public spaces, museums, galleries, and businesses.

Blog cta background image
Blog cta background image

The storytelling and sensory delights add a richness to Vancouver’s well known mountain/sea dynamic. Giving voice to a once silent history is a great way to honour a part of my heritage and push understanding and reconciliation. If you know this story, you know the story of Vancouver and Canada.

portrait

Ashley Pilfold is a freelance storyteller: when he's not out discovering new places he’s studying languages and seeking out patio happy hours and Neapolitan pizza joints.

What you need to know

Blog cta background image bg_img_polaroid
Partner logo
Learn more about the Vancouver community

For Vancouver to be a must-visited year-round destination that is known as the most exciting, attractive and welcoming city destination in North America.

Why people love Vancouver What you can do inVancouver Visit Tourism Vancouver
Who is it for

Solo Travellers

Couples

Young people

Families

When to visit

Anytime

Time needed

A Long Weekend

For a better experience

What to bring

Curiosity

a bus pass

walking shoes

Distance to major centres

# km from Victoria

Travel times from Downtown Vancouver

# km from Victoria

Visit Vancouver

leaves leaves guide

Send me a guide

discounts

Unlock discounts

advisor

Ask an advisor

stay

Book your stay

tours

Select tours

safety

Get safety updates

Explore First Nations Art on the unceded territory of Coast Salish people


bike

Discover a Master at The Bill Reid Gallery

Bill Reid was ‘just’ a CBC radio announcer before he took a night-time goldsmith class at 24. Raised in a non-Indigenous family, he went back to his heritage as an adult to learn and study the stories and the art of his ancestors. While some consider it very controversial that he has brought these Haida stories to the masses, he also single-handedly revived the Haida style – designing pieces for royalty and even being commissioned to work on the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC shortly after.    Of his more than 1500 works, from intricate jewelry to monumental, wall-sized pieces you’ll find 161 of them right in dow

Read more

Discover a Master at The Bill Reid Gallery

Visit the Bill Reid Gallery

Hosted by Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Get lost in the stunning Museum of Anthropology

The special emphasis on First Nations artifacts of the Pacific Northwest are the anchor of this eclectic and compelling museum at the University of British Columbia.    There’s two things that really get me here. First it’s the towering totem poles (a type of monumental carving with layered symbols) forged out of western red cedar, a nearly rot-proof wood which keeps the history noble in the now. Then it’s Bill Reid’s epic Raven and First Men sculpture, a Haida creation myth of humans in a clamshell brought to life in carved yellow cedar.    There’s also two replica H

Read more

Get lost in the stunning Museum of Anthropology

Reserve your ticket.

Hosted by Museum of Anthropology

bike
bike

Savour Local Ingredients with Indigenous Cuisine

When I’m traveling my list of must-dos is usually topped by experiencing unique local cuisine and it doesn’t get much more unique than Salmon n’ Bannock. It’s not every day that you can feed your soul at a First Nations restaurant - but this is no schtick. It’s a place where the flavours pop and local ingredients shine like nowhere else. The fire-red sockeye salmon ceviche and dried bison with bannock (a traditional bread) get the senses started with an almost tapas-like tinge to the meal, before mains like 24-hour roast bison or local game sausage clean up with an experience usually reserved for restaurants at a much higher price point. Over on the North Shor

Read more

Savour Local Ingredients with Indigenous Cuisine

Salmon and Bannock

Hosted by Mr. Bannock

Unearth a Culture and a Land Paddling a Canoe

One of my favourite ways to discover Vancouver is on the water and what better way than on a 25 foot ocean-going cedar canoe? On these ecotours the experienced Coast Salish Nation guides at Takaya will show you local waterways singing traditional songs and telling stories of their peoples and territory in a modern context. What I love about this is that you’re involved in this ‘cultural handshake’ right away - they give you a paddle and you’re instantly part of the motor propelling the tour forward. It’s a bit like time travel with a history lesson and some fresh air and exercise - and you might even spot some orcas along the way. Takaya also does a very compe

Read more

Unearth a Culture and a Land Paddling a Canoe

Book a tours at Takaya Tours

Hosted by Takaya Tours

bike
bike

Wander through the Indigenous Street Art to get a new perspective

The beautifying of Vancouver’s urban space takes a traditional twist with some stunning indigenous street art that blurs the line between contemporary and classic forms - often in the form of massive murals - popping out when you least expect it. This first happened to me coming across Carrielynn Victor’s almost surreal Scolder Dives for Berries on a weekend wander a couple years back. I would later find out this was part of the Vancouver Mural Festival’s Indigenous Program that has talented youth blanketing our city in amazing aboriginal art. They’ve got a long list of spots bu

Read more

Wander through the Indigenous Street Art to get a new perspective

Stroll around.

Hosted by Vancouver Mural Festival

Let the Legendary Inukshuk Give You a Proper Welcome

This grey granite monolith by artist Alvin Kanak rises over the iconic downtown beach, English Bay, and was commissioned by the government of the Northwest Territories for Vancouver’s Expo 86. Today it’s arguably Vancouver’s most photographed piece of public art. The ancient Inuit symbol has a dual function as both a navigational aid and a welcoming landmark and was controversially an inspiration for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games logo. On the beach below you can try your hand at creating your own inukshuk - you’ll see dozens of attempts (some good and some bad) balancing on boulders

Read more

Let the Legendary Inukshuk Give You a Proper Welcome

Take a short stop

Hosted by

bike
bike

Stay at the Indigenous Artist-in-Residence Hotel

  I recently noticed this unique boutique hotel on a walk in Chinatown as it’s hard to miss a towering totem pole in the urban concrete. I went inside and found an art gallery and remember being particularly struck by an owl carving by Harvey John of the Nuu-Cha-Nulth Nation. This kind of stuff is churned out here daily as the hotel doubles as a social enterprise that directly funds its in-house artist residents. For the 24 indigenous artists here Skwachàys Lodge isn’t just a place for them to lay their head either - the income from your stay offers them a three year curated program and furnishes a full artist studio on site. Each room was conceptualized by a

Read more

Stay at the Indigenous Artist-in-Residence Hotel

Book your stay at:

Hosted by Skwachays Lodge Hotel

Related experiences and discounts

Search all experiences
Blog cta background image

Stay up-to-date with your travel guidelines

photo

Review the local public health advisories

British Columbia Health Authority Updates
photo

Follow quarantine and mask guidelines

British Columbia Public Health Orders
photo

Learn about other important safety tips

Check our travel safe blog
photo

Get updates on your favorite experiences

Create an account