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Where to Experience Indigenous Art & Culture on Vancouver Island

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Mindful travel begins with a deep respect and appreciation for the land, culture, and traditions of our Indigenous communities. On Vancouver Island, you can find countless authentic Indigenous experiences and Indigenous-led businesses to connect with, learn from, and form a deep and meaningful connection to their beautiful and diverse stories. Exploring Indigenous Vancouver Island means discovering the deep connection between land and people. Here are a few ways to travel Indigenous on Vancouver Island.

Museum at Campbell River

This informative exhibit located at the Museum at Campbell River explores the impacts of colonization through the experiences of one family, and one artist, Kwakwaka’wakw artist and Hereditary Chief G̱ixkastallasame-gi, or Cecil Dawson. His contemporary art aims for viewers to critically examine our past, and consider how we can move forward together into the future. For travelers, this is an excellent opportunity to truly consider their relationship towards Indigenous communities and reconciliation

A person is looking at Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous Artworks Spirits of the West Coast Gallery | Lexa Bergen
Spirits of the West Coast Gallery | Lexa Bergen

Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery, Comox Valley

With a truly spectacular collection of Pacific Northwest Coast Native Art and Culture, the Spirits of the West Coast Gallery provides both an educational and informative look into Indigenous art on Vancouver Island. The gallery’s mission seeks to provide information about Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous Culture and Artwork to visitors and locals alike, while forming connective relationships with Northwest Coast Artists. The gallery offers both virtual and in-person tours.

Wei Wai Kum House of Treasures, Campbell River

A Wei Wai Kum owned and operated shop and gallery that features Indigenous art and gifts created by Indigenous artists, largely from the Vancouver Island and Campbell River regions. The space is located in a contemporary building designed with the architectural look of a traditional Big House, and is an excellent spot for visitors and travelers to shop Indigenous and bring a memory of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation home with them.

I-Hos Gallery | Jordyn Geisbrecht

I-Hos Gallery, Courtenay

Owned and operated by the K’omoks First Nation, I-Hos Gallery features a remarkable collection of both traditional and contemporary Northwest Coast artwork – produced by First Nations artists. Indigenous culture is heavily expressed through art, and I-Hos is a celebration of the deeply rooted storytelling traditions that Indigenous artists express through art. Don’t miss the incredible frontage on I-Hos Gallery, incorporating a whale “Queneesh” and double-headed sea serpent “I-Hos”, together representing the crests of the K’ómoks people.

House of Himwitsa Gallery, Tofino

A First Nations owned and operated gallery, the name “Himwitsa” is derived from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth language, translating as “Storytelling, and the passing of knowledge from elder to youth.” This meaning is truly representative of the gallery and its art, where they specialize in fair trade First Nations artwork, featuring some of the regions’ most cherished artists. The gallery says “Each creation has a story to tell” and you truly experience that sentiment on any visit to this breathtaking gallery.

Ahtsik Gallery & Gordon Dick Studio

Ahtsik Gallery & Gordon Dick Studio, Port Alberni

Founded over a decade ago by Tseshaht Master Carver Gordon Dick, the gallery represents the work of West Coast artists from across Vancouver Island. The space features both the Ahtsik Gallery and Gordon Dick’s Artist Studio, where an outdoor carving shelter custom built from locally-sourced western red cedar is not to be missed. Tours and carving demos are available to be arranged by contacting the gallery in advance of your visit, where you’ll be able to gain unmatched knowledge of the traditional Indigenous art of the area, and potentially, even see different stages of art in progress.

Cedar House Gallery, Ucluelet

The only First Nations owned art gallery in Ucluelet, Cedar House Gallery features an immense collection of art from Pacific Northwest Indigenous artists. The gallery is owned and operated by Nuu-chah-nulth artist Tlehpika Hjalmer Wenstob and his family, where you’ll often Tlehpika carving and creating new art in between visiting guests. Available for viewing by appointment only, the space is truly community-orientated- where visitors and locals alike can come by to share stories, art, and conversation – and is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to connect deeply with Indigenous culture in the area.

Mark Loria Gallery
Mark Loria Gallery

Mark Loria Gallery, Victoria

One of the world’s most renowned Indigenous fine art galleries, the Mark Loria Gallery features an extensive collection of contemporary Indigenous work’s of British Columbia’s remarkable artists. The gallery features up to six new exhibitions every year and is a great way to see variation in Indigenous art and discover something new. The gallery has had a long-standing commitment to promote and support Indigenous artists by donating back to communities in an ongoing effort to preserve and protect Indigenous culture across Vancouver Island.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Full of Indigenous textiles, art, and a celebration of Indigenous fashion – this group exhibition, which takes place until November 20, presents different ways to be adorned and embellished with cultural traditions. Where fashion traditionally is focused on aesthetics and beauty, Adorned celebrates cultural expressions, histories, futurisms, and materiality. A truly breathtaking collaborative exhibition, you won’t want to miss the colors, shapes, and textures of this unique art showing.

Indigenous art and culture on Vancouver Island

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