Vancouver: A First Nations City

The cultures of Canada’s First Nations are prevalent throughout the city with vibrantly coloured totem poles, cultural centres, museums, and contemporary art galleries.

Follow our steps to experience Vancouver’s rich First Nations heritage through outdoor excursions and cultural experiences.


Take a guided tour through the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Canada’s largest teaching museum, to learn more about Indigenous Peoples’ cultures across North America. The Museum of Anthropology houses 7,100 ethnographic and archaeological objects from British Columbia’s First Nations.

Stroll around the Museum’s grounds to discover monumental Haida houses, poles, and Musqueam house posts.

Art galleries

First Nations artwork is easy to find in Vancouver’s art galleries. You could start downtown at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. It displays the well-known Haida artist Bill Reid’s sculptures and jewellery, but also exhibits masterpieces by other contemporary First Nations artists – such as a full-scale totem pole carved by James Hart.

If you wish to buy First Nations artwork and jewellery – such as ceremonial masks or silver bracelets – visit one of the many Indigenous Peoples’ art galleries.

Dine at a First Nations restaurant

To finish your First Nations day in style, why not have dinner at the Salmon n’ Bannock bistro?

The Salmon n’ Bannock bistro is the only First Nations restaurant in Vancouver.

It uses traditional ingredients that are prepared in a modern way, such as wild fish and game meat, and also freshly baked bannock – a Native American bread.

Beyond Vancouver

Vancouver is just two hours away by plane from the archipelago of Haida Gwaii.

The local indigenous community, the Haida people, now manages a flourishing FSC-certified forest operation. The Haida Heritage Centre provides an in-depth introduction to the culture of the Haida. It can be combined with cultural boat tours, some of which take you to the old villages of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, where you can admire carved totem poles standing in their original locations.

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is also two hours away from Vancouver – by road up to Whistler. In the Centre, you can learn more about the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations groups. Take a (self-) guided tour through the museum and contemporary galleries, watch traditional dances and songs, and discover two outdoor dwellings – the cedar Squamish longhouse and the Lil’wat Istken, an underground pit dwelling.