/ The Vancouver Guide

The Olympics Introduces the World to Our Country’s First Nations

From the spectacular Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and all throughout the Games, the Four Host First Nations involvement in these Winter Olympic Games has been a showcase to introduce the culture of our country’s Aboriginal people.

The Four Host First Nations, the Lil-wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Wutulh have invited everyone to the world’s biggest potlach.  Dozens of natives, including Inuit and Metis have participated in the celebration and dazzled the world with their  fabulous art, beautiful clothing and energetic dancing.  The First Nations people of Canada took part in the torch run too, carrying the Olympic torch by foot, canoe, dogsled and horseback across the country.  And here at the 2010 Winter Olympics, from Whistler to Vancouver, sharing their language, history and arts.

The Four Host First Nations Pavilion, on the plaza of Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Georgia and Hamilton Streets, is an 8,000 square foot pavilion featuring a high tech 3,000 square foot sphere surrounded by a Coast Salish Longhouse.  There is a Trading Post which will be relocated after the Games, and the adjacent Queen Elizabeth restaurant has been converted into a reception hall featuring an Aboriginal showcase and cuisine prepared by five star Chef Arnie Olson.  The restaurant has only been opened to the public after 8 pm except on some occasions so I missed my chance to dine there.  (See schedule here) But outside the pavilion I bought some  delicious venison stew ($7) with bannock ($7.50).

Throughout the Olympics, the pavilion has featured Aboriginal  groups from all regions of Canada performing hoop dancing, Inuit throat singing, Metis jigging and other Aboriginal performances including various fields of achievement.  The signature show is projected on the dome, outlining the fascinating history and achievements of Canada’s First Nations people.

In addition to the Four Host First Nations Pavilion, just down the street at VCC (Hamilton at Dunsmuir) there’s an Aboriginal Artisan Market,  and at Robson and Beatty you can visit Haida Gwaii House.  There have been other First Nations events at BC House in the Vancouver Art Gallery and at the stage in GE Ice Plaza.  In the Pan Pacific Hotel there is a showcase of Aboriginal Tourism where Anthony Paul, a master carver from the Sechelt band has been working on an 8 foot cedar panel that will be donated to the hotel.  The piece is called “the New Beginning” and features a seal, orca, salmon, clam and welcome hands.  The Kla-How-Ya venue also features traditional dancing, cedar bark wearing, and an opportunity to learn about the harvesting of wild herbs for traditional medicines   The venue features a Tsimshien canoe, “Ravensong” (“Gaak Lamae”) carved by Tsimshien carver Bill Helin.

The 2010 Cultural Olympiad has also included a diverse array of First Nations art forms including traditional Gilksan dancing, Inuit throat singing and an assortment of visual arts.  During this time, the Talking Stick Festival has also been presenting daily events with First Nations artists, actors, singers and dancers.

You might still have time to see some of these exhibits as I’ve heard that the Pavilion may be open during the Paralympic Games that take place in March.

Related places:
  1. A
    Queen Elizabeth Theatre
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  2. B
    Vancouver Community Network (VCN)
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  3. C
    Vancouver Art Gallery
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  4. D
    GE Ice Plaza at Robson Square
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  5. E
    Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver
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