Canada is an incredibly diverse country, where around 2 million people identify as indigenous. These people along with their unique cultural traditions have existed in the region for thousands of years, even before the arrival of Europeans. Three groups of indigenous peoples in the country have been recognized by the Canadian Constitution, including the Inuit, First Nations, and Métis. These groups have their own unique and distinct languages, cultural practices, history, and spiritual beliefs.
With more than 600 First Nation communities in Canada representing more than 50 Indigenous languages and dialects, it is safe to say that the indigenous culture is a significant part of this region. Each and every group in the country has its own symbols and values. An authentic Canadian experience is incomplete without acknowledging the rich culture of the aboriginal people. From dining in high-end indigenous restaurants to urban explorations with indigenous guides, experiencing indigenous culture in Canada can be a transformative experience.
Experiencing The Indigenous Culture In Canada
If you are on a holiday in Canada, here are some unique ways in which you can experience the country’s indigenous culture!
Experience The Indigenous Cuisine
The Indigenous cuisine of Canada is an expression of its culture and identity. Furthermore, the food consumed by the indigenous people is also of a unique nature. The native people of Canada believe in respecting life and living in balance with nature. In a way to create harmony between all forms of living, these ingenious groups learned to take only what they need from nature, which has allowed them to thrive in some of the harshest conditions.
As the indigenous people hunt, they do not waste any part of the animal such as its hooves, bones, and horns, which were then used in making clothes and tools. This is why indigenous cuisines have also focused on local seasonal ingredients and nose-to-tail cooking. Many Indigenous cooks and chefs have also combined their traditional flavours with contemporary cooking techniques, something that has created a unique culinary scene.
Enjoy The Rich Cultural Experience
There is nothing quite like the indigenous culture which has existed for thousands of years. This culture is not just a testament to the strength of the indigenous groups, but it is also a great way to ponder over mankind’s vitality.
While many of the indigenous celebrations and events were banned during the late 1800s and early 1900s, today the indigenous people proudly showcase their culture in the form of ceremonies. One of these celebrations is the Powwows where First Nations communities and Native Americans hold a gathering and dance, sing, and honour their ancestors’ traditions. The Calgary Stampede Powwow is one of the largest competitive Powwows in Canada where the best indigenous singers and dancers from Canada and the U.S. compete at the annual event in July. This is also one of the favourite festivals among visitors and locals!
Explore The Wilderness And Natural Wonders
There is nothing better than exploring the natural wonder and wilderness if you want to connect with the indigenous culture. These groups lived in harmony with nature and considered it a sacred prize that must be respected. For indigenous communities, the land provides sustenance and is important for cultural reproduction.
Our local guide in West Vancouver takes you on a Talking Trees walking tour where you get to learn from the local Shíshálh people and Squamish Nation. During the tour, you will also learn how Indigenous peoples harvested plants throughout Stanley Park and used them. You will also hear stories of how the Natives lived harmoniously in the wilderness for thousands of years.
Go Aurora Hunting
Watching the Northern lights is a must if you are in Canada, and for indigenous people, Aurora viewing is a much more insightful experience than you would think.
For the indigenous communities in Canada, the word ‘etuaptmumk’ is of significance as it encourages you to use one eye to focus on the indigenous knowledge, while the other eye takes strength from the Western knowledge. Experiencing the Northern lights with this unique perspective is something that visitors should try at least once. Moreover, the entire experience is elevated to another level when you go ‘aurora hunting’ instead of letting the lights find you.
In Yellowknife, you can opt for a tailor-made travel which takes you to the best vantage point for viewing this natural marvel. As you wait for the northern lights to appear, the guides will also share the Dene legends and stories. Moving across the lakes, meadows, and hillsides in the hunt for auroras is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should definitely avail!
Visit The Great Northern Arts Festival
During summer, for 56 days the Northwest Territories in Canada experience 24 hours of daylight. The locals take full advantage of this time and celebrate this setting in an uplifting manner. Started in the late 1980s, the Great Northern Arts Festival takes place in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The festival is held each summer and lasts for ten days.
The Great Northern Arts Festival showcases the works of more than a hundred Northern musicians, painters, sculptors, and First Nations artists from all around Canada. This art exhibition takes place outdoors under the midnight sun, which makes the entire experience one of a kind. You also get to see Gwich’in women make handmade Indigenous dolls from scratch!
Indigenous Cultural Private Tour In Canada
Experiencing the indigenous culture in Canada will leave you awestruck with its authentic and all-embracing nature. By eating the traditional food and experiencing the wilderness in the traditional ‘Native’ way, you will be left with immense respect for indigenous communities and their lifestyle. Threading into new territory on your own may be a little intimidating and it’s times like this that a local guide might be a great addition to your holiday plan to ease you into the local cultures. If you are planning to experience the colourful indigenous culture in Canada on your next holiday, we are happy to arrange private tours for you. Drop us a message over WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram or via our website to find out more.