One thing I appreciate about Canada is how easy it is to access Indigenous culture. The gracious folks I’ve met always generously share their customs, teachings, legends and traditions. About 1.2 million Indigenous people live across Canada, speaking more than 50 languages; 115 National Historic Sites commemorate Indigenous themes.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you, like me, find that these are some of the most meaningful memories you’ll make on your Canadian holiday. Here are just a few of the top Indigenous travel experiences on offer.
Immersing in Nunavut’s Inuit Culture
“You!” said the Inuit man dressed from head to toe in fur, pointing. “Good runner.”
One of my favourite Indigenous Canada travel memories is from Nunavut, way up at the top of the world in the Arctic. It was when, after jogging alongside the qamutik (sled) in knee-deep snow dressed in enormous boots and several jackets for what seemed like a very long time, I got praise from a local. A soft-spoken, tough-as-nails man of few words, our host’s husband also had a wicked sense of humour.
After our dogsledding session, we spent the afternoon in the couple’s sunny home filled with hanging plants, sampling foraged seaweed and muktuk—a traditional meal of frozen whale skin and blubber— telling stories and examining artifacts like the narwhal tusk hanging over the living room door.
Attend a Pow Wow in Manito Ahbee, Winnipeg
Winnipeg’s Manito Ahbee is one of North America’s top pow wows: international performers in feathered headdresses share the spotlight with Inuit hip hop dancers and traditional fiddlers over five days of festivities.
Paddle Along the Historic Fur Trade Route
With 100,000 lakes, Saskatchewan was made for paddling. An Indigenous guide can take you along the historic fur trader routes.
Join a Native Circle or Try a Sweat Lodge
Overnight in a tipi in Quebec, join an Atikamekw First Nation Native Circle or try a sweat lodge.
Overnight Voyageur Paddling Trip
Take an overnight voyageur paddling trip with Ojibwa and Métis Indigenous at Ontario’s Fort William Historical Park.
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
Atlantic Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites introduce you to 6,000 years of Indigenous plains peoples, as well as the site of a Viking encampment.
See British Columbia’s Elusive Spirit Bear
Search for the fabled Spirit Bear with your Kitasoo/Xai’xais guides in B.C., in the world’s largest intact coastal temperate rainforest.