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.

Make an Indigenous tourism adventure part of your summer plans with these brand new experiences. From coast to coast to coast, Indigenous tourism in Canada offers up everything from immersive multi-day wilderness experiences to a morning’s workshop. Fresh for 2018, get inspired by these gems!


Keep it Cultural at Six Nations

Exciting things are happening at Six Nations this year with the launch of three Cultural Experience packages, and the opening of an all-new event and conference centre, the Gathering Place by the Grand, which boasts five different event spaces, the largest stage in Six Nations, plus state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment and a fully-equipped professional kitchen.

Visiting the area? Call the Cultural Co-Ordinator to set up a tour; what will you choose? Keep things active and dive into a Day of Play learning the basics of the ancient game of lacrosse and find out what it means to the Haudenosaunee people. Afterwards, explore the nature trail, try a spot of archery and finish your day with a game at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena. Love history? Take the ‘Where Cultures Meet’ tour and visit different historical sites, museums, and the modern-day Six Nations to learn about the rich history and culture of the Six Nations people and community. See the world from the vantage point of a kayak or canoe on the “On the Water” experience, and learn about Haudenosaunee history and culture while enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of a paddle along the Grand River. See how water, land and all living things are interconnected within Haudenosaunee culture.

New Fly-in Lodge for Haida Gwaii

Brand new for 2018, Ocean House is a floating fly-in luxury lodge, anchored off the rugged west coast of Haida Gwaii, at Stads K’uns GawGa. Fly in from Vancouver, with a thrilling helicopter connection, and then relax and feel the magic of the ancient culture and incredible nature of this place known as the “Galpagos of the North.” Throughout their stay, guests will be able to learn about the Haida people on hikes through old-growth forest with cultural guides, water excursions to ancient village sites, meeting the artist in residence, along with the chance to see orca and humpback whales, deer, bears and puffins. There’s a spa in the lodge, along with a steam room, and sauna, and on the menu, many local ingredients prepared in the traditional style—but with a modern twist!

A Haida Nation Guide explains historic totems at S’Gang Gwaay for Ocean House

Spend a night at the Longhouse…

Just a 20- minute drive away from Quebec City, leave North America’s only remaining walled city behind which dates back to 1608, to learn from the Huron-Wendat people whose history dates back thousands of years. Sign up for a ‘Pre-contact’ experience in their traditional longhouse on-site at the ultra-modern Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, which includes storytelling over bannock and fresh-brewed Labrador tea, and a firekeeper who’ll tend the flames and keep safe your dreams while you sleep. Breakfast at La Traite Restaurant is also included along with a room in the hotel with all mod cons for freshening up in the morning.

Visit a National Historic Treasure

The west coast of Vancouver Island with its surf town of Tofino, and soaring old-growth forests has an exciting Huu-ay-aht Nation treasure too; the village of Kiixin (pronounced “kee-hin”), which is commemorated as a National Historic Site. Head out on a three-hour tour with a Huu-ay-aht Knowledge Holder, hiking through an old-growth rainforest trail with some boardwalk sections and stairs, leading to a beautiful protected beach with rocky ledges and tide pools. This is the only known First Nations village (of more than 100 on the southern BC coast) which still features significant, standing traditional architecture, and which has a wealth of associated historic information from oral histories, archaeology, and archival records, which demonstrates continuous occupation of the area for almost 3, 000 years.

Explore Ancient Trails on Horseback

Brand new for 2018, Alberta’s Painted Warriors have a thrilling new weekend or five-day family horse camp adventure that draws on traditional knowledge of the Asinewachi Winiwak (Mountain People), who were hunters, trappers and guides. Horses were once used to navigate the rugged mountain passes of the Jasper National park area and Wilmore wilderness; guests can learn traditional survival skills, along with improving their riding on this trip which is perfect for newbie riders and pros alike. After a day learning plant medicine, backcountry riding and camp set-up, enjoy traditional Cree foods in the great outdoors!

Saulteaux Guide from the Cody First Nations shows guests at Painted Warriors how to pack a horse saddle.

Wine Tasting, Cultural Treasures and Desert Roots

The Osoyoos Indian Band has a raft of exciting new projects to check out on their traditional territory in the southern Okanagan this year. Until the end of October, the Spirit Ridge Resort is offering a ‘First Nations’ package with two nights exploring the rich culture, art, food and stories of the Osoyoos Indian Band. The package features a Land to Legacy Tour at Nk’Mip Cellars, which guides visitors from grape to glass at the first Aboriginal-owned and operated winery in North America. The package also includes two complimentary passes to the nearby Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, which honours the Nations’ rich history.

Head out with a local Syilx (Okanagan) guide on a six-hour cultural exploration with Sẁiẁs Spirit Tours to visit the protected ecological marvel—and important cultural treasure—of Spotted Lake. Learn about the area through traditional Sylix history of the lake, then head east to the Anarchist Mountain Lookout too for breathtaking views over Osoyoos Lake. The final stop takes in the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre which includes both indoor and outdoor exhibits and trails.

Jordan Bower, of the Osoyoos Indian Band, Okanagan Nation performing a butterfly fancy dance. Swiws Tours.

Enjoy a Wilderness Adventure in Newfoundland

All-new for the season at Abadak Wilderness Adventure in Newfoundland, take take a walk —or paddle—into the wilderness and use your camera to hunt for moose, caribou or bear. Explore the backcountry trails and waterways following the paths of the ancestors of the Flat Bay Indian Band. Hear stories from experienced guides which show how traditions have been kept alive through oral history for hundreds of years, be part of that transfer of knowledge from generation to generation.

Abadak Wilderness Adventures

Star Chef Heads for Shuswap

Huge news for culinary fans for the new season at the Quaaout Lodge and Spa at Talking Rock in the Shuswap, who have just announced multi-award-winning Vancouver chef Chris Whittaker will be leaving Forage and Timber restaurants at the Listel Hotel to join the team as their executive chef. “I am excited to join the team at Quaaout Lodge for many reasons!” says Whittaker. “It is an amazing property in a beautiful setting with a strong Indigenous focus. My aim is to further define our cuisine in BC with that in mind and am super excited for that challenge.” Whittaker, a champion of sustainable, no-waste, nose-to-tail and field-to-plate will be starting service from July.

Chef Chris Whittaker photo credit Kyla Mann

Nikki Bayley

Nikki Bayley

Nikki Bayley is an award winning international travel writer, and food and wine journalist. Originally from the UK, Nikki fell in love with Canada after a visit to Newfoundland in 2008 and moved to Vancouver in 2012. Nikki has been criss-crossing Canada ever since, learning more about the land and its peoples, and sharing their stories around the world.