Six of the best indigenous experiences in British Columbia

STANLEY PARK INDIGENOUS WALK, VANCOUVER

It's easy to visit what's widely-rated as one of the world's finest urban parklands and leave oblivious to the fact that it was once an important home for Canada's traditional owners. This is why it's worth exploring Stanley Park with an indigenous guide, such as those from Aboriginal tourism specialists Talaysay Tours. Your guide will accompany you on a harbourside walk while sharing the First Nations stories behind both the park and the city of Vancouver before European settlement. You may even be serenaded by your guide on a park bench, overlooking breathtaking views of the city, accompanied by a soothing indigenous drum-beat. See talaysay.com

FIRST NATIONS MUSEUM, WHISTLER

JEY0CH First Nations dancers perform at the SLCC on National Aboriginal Day. Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre. Whistler BC, Canada SatMay5SixOfTheBest

First Nations dancers perform at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre. Photo: David Buzzard / Alamy Stock Photo

This First Nations-run museum, also called the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, is a must-see at any time of year. Through vivid exhibits, workshops, film, song and dance, it tells the story of the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations who have lived in this part of British Columbia for thousands of years. It's conveniently located right in the heart of the premier ski resort of Whistler, a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver, in a contemporary, architecturally-impressive building. The museum also has an excellent shop that sells a range of authentic Squamish and Lil'wat arts and crafts. See slcc.ca

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

E731C6 Beautiful The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe by native sculptor Bill Reid, at Vancouver International Airport. SatMay5SixOfTheBest

The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe by indigenous sculptor Bill Reid, at Vancouver International Airport. Photo: Morgana / Alamy Stock Photo

Believe it or not, the outstanding Vancouver International Airport is one of the best places in British Columbia to gain a sense of the province's stunning indigenous art heritage. As part of an exemplary formal program to support BC's talented indigenous artists,  the terminal buildings serve as exhibition spaces for myriad works  that explore the themes of land, sea and sky. It's a feature of the airport, regularly voted North America's finest, that greatly enhances the experience of passengers who pause long enough to appreciate the arresting displays. See yvr.ca and yvraf.com

QUAAOUT LODGE & SPA, CHASE, OKANAGAN VALLEY

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Quaaout Lodge & Spa.                  Photo: Supplied/Alamy

This outstanding First Nations owned and operated lodge sits beside scenic Little Shuswap Lake and provides its guests with every creature comfort, along with unrivalled insights into the complex lives and traditions of Canada's indigenous peoples. Located in Okanagan Valley in the far south of British Columbia,  the 70-room  complex also boasts the 18-hole Talking Rock Golf Course. Time here, however, is best spent delving into the fascinating First Nations culture through experiences such as interpretive canoe tours or by simply engaging with the warm and welcoming locals.  See quaaoutlodge.com

SEE SOCKEYE SALMON BY CANOE, ADAMS RIVER

B0CNCW Sockeye salmon Adams River Shuswap British Columbia Canada SatMay5SixOfTheBest

Sockeye salmon in the Adams River, Shuswap, British Columbia, Canada                               Photo: John E Marriott / Alamy Stock Photo

In October each year, in one of the world's most remarkable natural occurrences, sockeye salmon return in heroic numbers to spawn in the waters of the Adams River in the Okanagan Valley. One of the best ways to view the blood-red spectacle is by travelling in a traditional First Nations wooden voyageur canoe, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers. The vessel travels along the shores of the Little Shuswap Lake before reaching the mouth of the river where the salmon can viewed.  This year is one of the "dominant" years in the cycle of the salmon, meaning millions of the tenacious swimmers are expected to return to the river. A Salute to Sockeye festival is held to mark the event. See quaaoutlodge.com 

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VISIT A TRADITIONAL PIT HOUSE, OKANAGAN VALLEY

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Fireside storytelling and music at Quaaout Lodge & Spa. Photo: Supplied

Tee pees or, more correctly, tipi are commonly thought of as the accommodation of choice for the First Nations of North America. However, traditional pit houses, though perhaps more prosaic, offer reliable protection from frigid Canadian winters. Pit houses are log-framed structures built over an excavated floor and covered with a layer of earth for insulation. They feature a central hearth and provide shelter for numerous occupants. Visitors can spend some time in a pit house, in the fireside company of an indigenous storyteller and musician, on the grounds of the aforementioned Quaaout Lodge & Spa. See quaaoutlodge.com

Anthony Dennis visited British Columbia as a guest of Destination British Columbia. See hellobc.com

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