Maps
Wildlife viewing boat tour, Sea Wolf Adventures

8 Indigenous Businesses You’ll Want to Support on Vancouver Island

Share  Facebook Twitter PinterestPinterest | Print Your browser does not support SVG.
Wildlife viewing tour | Indigenous Tourism BC / Sea Wolf Adventures

The island that we know today as Vancouver Island has been home to the Indigenous Peoples of this land, including the Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Kwakwakaw’akw people, for thousands of years. The Island itself and the surrounding bodies of water have provided sustenance, and have supported transportation, connection, and culture. Stories, language, traditions, and a way of life that shows deep respect for the land and the sea have been passed down and preserved from one generation to the next. And visitors are lucky enough to be able to access Indigenous-owned and -operated businesses who share that rich cultural knowledge.

The people who operate these businesses invite you to hear their stories and gain insight into their lived experiences, taking you on unforgettable adventures by land and water that showcase their heritage. See art and artifacts, try your hand at traditional crafts, and learn about a deep connection to and respect for the natural world.

We are honoured and grateful to share the following ten Indigenous-led Vancouver Island experiences.

Humpback whale on a tour with Sea Wolf Adventures | Indigenous Tourism BC / Sea Wolf Adventures

Sea Wolf Adventures

Port McNeill – North Island

Owned and operated by Mike Willie of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, Sea Wolf Adventures offers a range of tours led by Mike and his team that shed light on their cultural heritage and demonstrate a deep connection to the land. Visitors learn about their people’s respect for tradition, and the importance of stewardship and conservation.

Each member of Mike’s team is culturally trained and active in their community, embodying a living culture and passing that knowledge to the next generation of Indigenous youth, as well as to those who inhabit and visit their lands. Book a tour for a once-in-a-lifetime way to experience the area’s grizzly bears and whales in the context of their significance to the Island’s original inhabitants.

West Coast Expeditions’ Sea Kayak Tours & Wilderness Retreat

Kyuquot – North Island

Located on Spring Island off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island near the community of Kyuquot, West Coast Expeditions offers memorable experiences with your favourite marine inhabitants. From personalized kayaking adventures that can include face time with curious sea otters and passing pods of dolphins, to land-based adventures through scenic old-growth forests and along private beaches, this Indigenous-owned and -operated business will take you to places far off the beaten path.

The business is owned and managed by Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nation member Bev Michel, who taps into her cultural heritage and lived experience to welcome visitors to and guide them through her homeland. Learn skills ranging from traditional weaving techniques to foraging for wild foods, and feel connected to the natural world as Bev and her team share their knowledge and their culture.

Coastal Rainforest Safaris | Indigenous Tourism BC / Kimberley Kufaas / Coastal Rainforest Safaris

Coastal Rainforest Safaris

Port Hardy – North Island

Owned and operated in part by Mike Willie of Sea Wolf Adventures, Coastal Rainforest Safaris offers visitors the opportunity to view some of northern Vancouver Island’s incredible wildlife in their natural habitat. Relax in the comfort of one of their vessels while you learn about local cultural traditions and connect to the natural world.

Coastal Rainforest Safaris connects you to the wild that is found throughout this northernmost part of Vancouver Island. Book a day tour and search for whales, dolphins, bald eagles, and more. Feel your jaw drop as you gaze at ancient cedar trees and breathe deeply as your stress melts away.

HomalcoWildlife & Cultural Tours | @samanthaer

Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours

Campbell River – Mid-island

The territory of the Homalco First Nation extends into Bute Inlet, a long, deep fjord located on the BC mainland across from Vancouver Island. Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours offers an incredible grizzly viewing experience in the bears’ natural habitat. An Indigenous guide shares stories and history as you travel by boat through the inlet and past dramatic scenery. Learn about Homalco culture and about their symbiotic relationship with the grizzlies, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some whales along the way.

As stewards of the grizzly bears of this area for over a decade, Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours offers visitors a safe and respectful environment to experience these wonderous creatures in their natural surroundings. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the significant connection between the Homalco, their lands, and the wildlife with whom they share this incredible location.

@westcoast.wildflowers

West Coast Wildflowers

Campbell River – Mid-island

This Indigenous-owned, woman-owned business offers carefully curated items for women and children ranging from jewelry and artwork to home décor and clothing. Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, West Coast Wildflowers supports small, local businesses, with a focus on businesses owned and operated by women and by Indigenous people.

West Coast Wildflowers is a must-stop destination on any trip to Campbell River, whether you’re looking for a piece of art for your living space, a new outfit to expand your wardrobe, or a memento that enables you to bring home an authentic piece of the Island experience.

Naas Foods

Tofino – Pacific Rim

A relatively new company to hit the surf town of Tofino, Naas Foods has quickly expanded and their offerings can now be found at markets and in shops across the province. Specializing in delicious, high-quality kelp products that are kind to the land and the water, founders Stevie Dennis—an Ahousaht member of the Keltsmaht First Nation—and Jordan White met at a lodge in Northern British Columbia, coming together with the common goal of finding unique ways to feed the planet using regenerative resources.

Some of their delectable offerings include Kelp Flakes (perfect as a salad topper) and Kelp Seasoning (great for everything). Purchasing products from Naas Foods is a fantastic way to bring home a memento from Vancouver Island while supporting an Indigenous-operated business.

Wya Point | @tourismucluelet

Wya Point

Ucluelet – Pacific Rim

In the busy season, Tofino and Ucluelet come alive with visitors from all over the globe, making it a little more difficult to escape to a private and remote spot. Enter Way Point, owned and operated by the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government on their traditional territory. Experience a protected area of around 250 hectares (600 acres), home to old-growth forests surrounded by isolated coastal beaches. You can even camp on the beach.

Located off a private road the departs the main highway en route to Ucluelet’s centre, Way Point offers a range of accommodation to suit all types of travellers. Choose from waterfront yurts, campsites, rooms at the lodge, and more. A true West Coast adventure awaits, with lush rainforest, quiet beaches, and plenty of awe-inspiring beauty.

Pacheedaht Campground

Port Renfrew- South Island

The name Pacheedaht means “Children of the sea foam,” and Pacheedaht Campground is a remarkable reflection of that name. Owned and operated by the Pacheedaht First Nation, the campground is located near the Gordon River trailhead, an access point to the renowned West Coast Trail. Enjoy a camping experience like no other on southern Vancouver Island as you gaze out over calm inlets surrounded by rainforest as far as the eye can see, listening to waves crashing on the beach.

Walking down Pacheedaht Beach, you’ll find kilometres of sand spotted with driftwood. Fall asleep to the rhythm of the waves and the salty smell of the ocean alongside the warm glow of a beachside fire, camping in complete and utter West Coast tranquillity.