From a new arts hotel and luxury tipis to four-star lodges, travellers can immerse themselves even more in aboriginal culture.
Suggested tweet: Immerse yourself in aboriginal culture in Canada via luxury tipis, four-star lodges + a new arts hotel http://ow.ly/CKEq2 #explorecanada
Catching your zizzes while immersed in First Nations’ culture no longer means roughing it—even tipis these days feature hardwood floors and 500-thread-count linen. Longhouse-styled lodges are garnering four stars for both aboriginal-influenced design and fusion cuisine. Come for the cultural authenticity: binge on bannock and salmon. No need to pack a dreamcatcher…
Canada’s first aboriginal arts hotel opened this past summer. First Nations artists residing in downtown Vancouver’s Skwachàys Lodge—with whom you can mingle—were paired with interior designers to create 18 unique rooms filled with carvings, native blankets and paintings. A 12-m (40-ft) totem pole crowns a traditional longhouse on the roof of the heritage building, which also features a sweat lodge and fair-trade art gallery. Revenues benefit the non-profit BC Native Housing Corporation.
Overlooking the ocean in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island’s west coast, Wya Point Resort offers contemporary, aboriginal-flavoured luxury that includes yurts-with-a-view. It’s also the only place in Canada with First Nations surfing instructors. Meanwhile, on the Kitasoo Xai’xais coastal BC ancestral lands, the Spirit Bear Lodge’s guides are savvy to the whereabouts of the Great Bear Rainforest’s elusive Spirit Bear, a rare white black bear. Watch orcas and sea lions swim past the window of the waterfront, longhouse-inspired lodge before feasting on traditionally prepared local salmon.
In tiny Tlell on Haida Gwaii, a high-end First Nations-operated lodge recently morphed from a bear-hunting operation into Haida House, offering the unique experience of touring the mystical islands, including Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Skidegate’s Haida Heritage Centre, with a local native guide.
Saddle up and arrive by horseback at your luxury tipi, complete with wooden floors, down comforters, furs and buffalo hides to lounge upon as part of one of the aboriginal adventures along the Great Spirit Circle Trail on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island. The experience also includes dining on Ojibway cuisine cooked over an open fire, learning to ride bareback and swim with your horse, paddling a canoe and foraging for food. At breakfast, bite into warm, fresh bannock bread.
Explore northern Ontario’s James Bay in a traditional freight canoe with guides from the modern, nature-friendly Cree Village Eco Lodge. Dinner might be bison or caribou. Prowl tiny Moosonee and Moose Factory, an early Hudson’s Bay Company post, buying handmade moccasins from local women.
Sleep in a traditional longhouse tended by an aboriginal firekeeper at Hotel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake, the Huron-Wendat Nation homeland just outside Québec City. Or stay in their four-star lodge, dining on traditional specialties like mugwort-roasted pheasant and red deer. Experience a Labrador tea ceremony, then tour the museum and historic sites with artifacts dating to the 16th century.
Learn to bake traditional bread in hot sand, hear the music and see the artefacts of New Brunswick’s 3,000-year-old Mi’kmaq First Nation culture at Metepenagiag Heritage Park, the archeological site of an ancient settlement. Stay overnight at the Outdoor Adventure Lodge, dining on gourmet aboriginal cuisine, such as freshly roasted moose.
Looking for more First Nations visual inspiration? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.