Unique Indigenous experiences in BC

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In British Columbia, a unique indigenous heritage and culture exists, with over 200 nations whose history in BC spans thousands of years. Here are just three of the tour operators in BC who can connect you with the land, sea, and the culture of the Coastal Peoples.

West Coast Expeditions, Spring Island

Captain James Cook’s arrival on Nootka Island, home of the Nuu-chah-nulth nation, in 1778 marked the first known visit by westerners to Yuquot, a minuscule and charming outpost in the Pacific northwest that has played a big role in history. Cook’s voyages altered the world, ushering a wave of exploration and eventually European settlement of North America’s west coast.

Located north of Yuquot in the community of Kyuquot on Spring Island, West Coast Expeditions offers exceptional kayaking tours with accommodations packages that last between four and eight days.

The owners are experienced guides who are part of the Kyuquot (Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’) and Checleset (Che:k:tles7et’h’) First Nations communities. They lead their guests through waters where the array of fascinating species that can be spotted include orcas, humpback whales, sea otters, bald eagles, black bears, and more. As well, Aboriginal cultural interactions include a traditional salmon feast around an open fire and tours of historic sites on Spring Island and elsewhere.

Takaya Tours First Nations Canoe Adventures on Indian Arm in North Vancouver.

Takaya Tours First Nations Canoe Adventures on Indian Arm in North Vancouver. Photo: Albert Normandin

Takaya Tours, North Vancouver

Based in North Vancouver, Takaya Tours is owned and operated by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and provides group tours in traditional ocean-going canoes, as well as interpretive rainforest hikes and other excursions.

Not only will you experience the unique thrill of paddling in a massive canoe with about a dozen other travellers, you’ll venture into the rainforests surrounding Vancouver and the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, an area that has been the traditional home of Coast Salish people like the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Takaya’s guides share details of their culture, understanding of the region and distinct way of life.

Talking Tree Tours at the top of the Summit at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish.

Talking Tree Tours occur daily at the top of the Summit at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. Photo: @AdrianBrijbassi of Vacay.ca

Talaysay Tours, Vancouver, North Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast

Knowledge keeper Candace Campo, whose ancestral name is xets’emits’a (meaning “to always be there”), is an anthropologist and educator dedicated to preserving the culture of the Shíshálh First Nation and the territory its members occupy.

A kayak guide, Campo leads her clients through educational tours of Vancouver, North Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast, a peninsula northwest of the city accessible by ferry. Among the highlights is a three-hour “Full Moon Paddle” that leads kayakers from Vancouver, around Stanley Park, and then to the beaches on the North Shore.

Other attractions include interpretive hikes of the forest in Stanley Park. Among them is a “Talking Trees Tour” that details legends of some of the oldest, most majestic trees in BC’s Lower Mainland. Talaysay is also launching interpretive hiking tours at the summit of the popular Sea to Sky Gondola attraction in Squamish this year.