Acquiring a taste for First Nations culture and cuisine in B.C.
The rich aboriginal history of British Columbia is a cultural heritage gem. Many bands along the coast and into the interior of British Columbia offer unique experiences and traditions for the cultured travel. Interested in planning a trip to visit some of the beautiful Aboriginal cultures in Vancouver or British Columbia? Consider getting your car rental in Vancouver with Pacific Car Rentals. We well get you to where you want to be with ease and without putting a dent in your pocket. Please enjoy this article sources from the Toronto Star regarding Aboriginal culture from a tourist POV.
The two businesses are part of a surge in interest in First Nations culture by international travelers, spurred by the First Nations focus at opening ceremonies at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of the 2010 Olympic Games,” says Keith Henry, CEO of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. “People around the world want to know the story about Canada’s aboriginal communities.”
British Columbia, home to 203 First Nations communities — about one-third of Canada’s First Nations groups—is at the forefront of this tourism drive, Henry says.
Cultural tourism in B.C. has more than doubled its market share in the past five years, primarily because aboriginal culture is being better promoted and packaged, he adds.
That ranges from tourism training for aboriginal youth to branding authentic products, created by aboriginal artisans. A logo is in development for a 2012 campaign to promote genuine Canadian aboriginal work.
Says Cook: “One of the reasons we started Salmon n’ Bannock was because I was frustrated every time I saw a made-in-China product with our (aboriginal) designs on it, selling for $100 at The Bay.”
The emphasis on telling their own story, their way, is evident at Klahowya Village, open from May 16 to Sept. 11 at Stanley Park.
Sponsored by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. (ATA-BC), the village features twice-daily dance and music performances; aboriginal weavers and wood carvers at work; aboriginal legends being told at the Story Telling Circle; and elders sharing their life stories. Aboriginal food and art are available for sale; and children are encouraged to make crafts inside a 15-meter-high teepee.
The village began as a pilot project during the Olympics, and was so popular, it now appears to have a permanent home, with carvings and paintings by aboriginal artists dominating an open-air stage and pond.
The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art in Vancouver already boasts an international reputation.
It’s a legacy to the Haida artist who died in 1998, showing his most intricate work (jewelry in gold and silver) to the most monumental (a bronze frieze, “Mythic Messengers”).
“We are the only public gallery in the world focusing primarily on contemporary northwestern art,” says Dr. Martine Reid, consulting curator at the gallery and Reid’s widow.
A recent exhibit, “Time Warp”, exhibited the work of 20 textile artists, from a Haida dress woven from shredded red cedar bark, to a Tlingit ceremonial robe with copper, wool and otter fur.
“It’s living art, very emotional . . . it allows people to go deep in time to communicate with their past,” she adds. “It’s also a form of resistance, of reaffirming who you are, and what you want to say about yourself.”
The Listel is the only Vancouver hotel known for showcasing aboriginal art, including originals by Tlingit artist Eugene Alfred, Musqueam printmaker Susan Point, and Kwakwaka’wakw potter Judy Cranmer.
The hotel devotes several “museum” floors to Haida masks and sculptures, on loan from the B.C. Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. livepage.apple.com
Quaaout Lodge in central B.C. draws visitors from as far as Japan, Australia and Europe.
They’re lured partly by the Little Shuswap band’s reputation of owning “the richest 120 hectares of land in the world”—the lucrative Adams River salmon run.
Other visitors are drawn by the culture: A group of 45 firefighting trainees from Sweden, for example, visited recently for wilderness training and to experience aboriginal life.
Quaaout is an architectural standout, surrounded by forest overlooking Little Shuswap Lake.
The lodge’s circular main hall suggests B.C.‘s traditional “kikuli” homes. Hand-carved murals and sculptures take guests beyond the hotel, to reproduction kikulis and a sweat lodge outdoors. (Guests must be invited; ceremonies here are still sacred.)
The band-built lodge opened in 1991, and all rooms were renovated with more luxurious decor in 2009. Log balconies facing the lake were added to each room last year
Quaaout’s 18-hole, Talking Rock Golf Course, averages 200 golfers a day, so the band is considering adding a 9-hole, executive course, then a “destination spa.”
It already hosts sweat lodges, women’s retreats, executive team-building weekends, and cultural experiences, such as learning First Nations arts and crafts with the band’s cultural coordinator, Barbara Callihoe, who is part of an aboriginal artists co-op. Chef Luc Martin demonstrates traditional ways of preparing salmon (in a clay pot, for instance, buried in hot ash), followed by tastings.
There are always new ventures to consider for the 320-member band, which has created 150 jobs through cultural tourism.
“People come here and expect totem poles, because Hollywood is what they know,” says Chief Felix Arnouse. “They are looking for a connection to original peoples, the people who have a connection to the earth.”
Kathleen Kenna is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. Her trip was subsidized by Tourism British Columbia, the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C., the Listel Hotel and Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel.