This post is from July 2020. In May 2021, BC is currently in Step 1 of a 4-step restart plan.
As we vacation around our province to enjoy summer safely during Phase 3 reopening, we must be mindful as travellers. Responsible tourism means that the experience creates a positive impact for all involved–not just the traveller. Responsible Indigenous tourism in BC means that travel includes consideration of all which is of value to Indigenous Peoples–their communities, languages, and cultures; water, animals, and lands.
Indigenous Cultural Centres to Visit in Southern BC
To really get to know the community you are visiting, I highly recommend stopping into these engaging and informative museums and cultural centres. I have been to every one of the following and really appreciate the knowledge I gained at each venue:
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Where: 4584 Blackcomb Way, Whistler
The SLCC is a three-story, 30,400-square foot award-winning cultural centre designed to blend the traditional Squamish Longhouse with the Lil’wat Istken. Cultural Ambassadors share their knowledge and stories with guests, augmenting the information shared throughout the centre’s curated collection of artifacts and contemporary pieces.
Nk’mip Desert Cultural Centre
Where: 1000 Rancher Creek Rd, Osoyoos
A 9,000 square-foot interpretive centre that exhibits 2 films, the Inkameep Day School Art Collection, indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits, a 1.5 km walking trail, and reconstructed traditional Okanagan village, and (visitor favourite) interpreter hosted programs for all ages.
Sncewips Heritage Museum
Where: Okanagan Lake Shopping Centre 260-525 Hwy 97S, Kelowna
The Sncewips Heritage Museum represents the heritage of Westbank First Nation and the stories of the syilx/ Okanagan Nation as a whole, First Nations people across Canada, and the World. They believe in the power of our own voice to inspire, educate and transform and are working hard to build cultural capacity and language awareness along with programming development.
At the Williams Lake Tourism Discovery Centre (1660 Broadway Avenue South, Williams Lake) you’ll find the Museum of the Cariboo-Chilcotin. It’s free to visit and within it I found history and information about the Secwepemc, Dakelh, and Tsilhqot’in People.
The Museum of Anthropology (6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver) is also reopening July 8th, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam People. The MOA is a place of world arts and cultures with a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples and other cultural communities of BC.
At the St. Eugene Golf Resort (7777 Mission Rd, Cranbrook), they host Indigenous Culture and Relations Training led by Ktunaxa Nations’ knowledge holders and Elders in a hands-on environment. The hotel itself was once a residential school and if you even just stop by for the day, on the lower level there is a gift shop (with proceeds supporting Ktunaxa language programs) with a number of exhibits and a gut-wrenching film which I recommend watching. We have to know this history.
Check the websites before you go for specific COVID-19 safety info, updated hours, and more. Indigenous Tourism BC has a full list of galleries, museums, and historic sites here.