This blog post was written before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when physical distancing and other COVID health and safety protocols were not in effect. The businesses and communities featured in this article may be once again welcoming visitors but please double check as some are only open with limited operations and others have not yet reopened.

British Columbia, the most western province of Canada, boasts ‘the greatest diversity of Indigenous culture’ in the country. Metis and over 200 First Nations have lived here for time immemorial, each with their own rich culture, history, and story.

In the Thompson Okanagan region, Route 97 is an Indigenous ancestral trail that has been used by the Interior Salish for thousands of years and is home to the Okanagan (Syilx), Nlaka’pamux, and Secwepemc Nations. Though each nation is distinct with its own dialect and traditions, they all share a deep connection with the elements. The mountains, the forests, the water, and the wildlife each with their own spirit, meaning, and story.

On the shores of Little Shuswap Lake, you’ll find Quaaout Lodge, the crowning jewel of the Little Shuswap Indian Band. It is located on Skwlax territory and honours the thriving culture of the Secwepemc Nation.

“Fill your heart full of good things…”

Smudging is the ceremonial tradition of Indigenous people across North America, cleansing the mind, body, and soul. Tanner Francois, of Secwepemc Nation, demonstrates how smudging connects the physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural wellbeing of our existence. As the smoke rises, prayers rise to the Spirit World where the Grandfathers and Creator reside. Negative energy and emotions are lifted away.

Learn more about Indigenous Culture in the Thompson Okanagan.

Videographer: Nic Collar Film for the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association in partnership with Indigenous Tourism BC and Indigenous Tourism Canada.

Dené Sinclair

Dené Sinclair

Dené Sinclair was ITAC's Director of Marketing. She lives and works in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis Nation. She acknowledges her traditional homeland around Selkirk, Manitoba (St. Peter’s Band) as a member of Peguis First Nation and a proud Anishinaabekwe.