Top Indigenous Travel Experiences in Canada

by Emese Graham
spirit bear hunting salmon

On June 21st, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day across Canada. Each year, the summer solstice marks a new chance to stop and appreciate First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and cultures.

This year, Indigenous Peoples Day looks a little different. Until we can all come together again safely, you’ll find celebrations taking place online.  Live streams of this year’s virtual Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival? Check. Virtual sunrise ceremony? You got it. There are countless ways to join in.

And if you suffer from the same travel bug that we do (since you’re here, we’ll assume you do), you can also spend the day planning a future getaway to one of Canada’s top indigenous travel experiences.

7 Outstanding Indigenous Travel Experiences in Canada

Planning post-pandemic travel can be confusing. That’s why our Travel Experts will walk you through the best timing for your trip, based on the safety regulations that indigenous communities across the country are upholding. For now, let’s dream of tomorrow’s vacations together!

1. Stay in Ocean House at Tlaga Gawtlaas, Haida Gwaii

 

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Ocean House and its sister property Haida House are both proudly 100% Haida Owned and dedicated to sharing authentic Haida heritage with all of their visitors.

From the tide-to-table seasonal menus to the local-centric spa offerings to the inspiration behind each of the luxury accommodations’ designs, the experience here is unmistakably unique to Haida Gwaii Make sure you fill your stay with guided experiences that bring you face to face with the magic of this beautiful region.

2. Watch the Northern Lights in Aurora Village, Yellowknife

 

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On the edge of a private lake is a picturesque collection of teepees and hilltop viewpoints to which visitors flock to see the beautiful aurora borealis. Welcome to Aurora Village, the 100% Aboriginal-owned experience we can’t get enough of.

Sip on some local NWT beer, maple whisky, or ice wine as you cuddle up on heated seats (that can swivel 360 degrees) under the northern sky. You can pop into the dining hall for something heartier like whitefish, bison stew, or bannock. Don’t forget to get your photo taken under the dynamic northern lights to capture the memories of your extraordinary night.

3. Journey into the Great Bear Rainforest

 

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If it’s the elusive Spirit Bear you’re looking for, there’s no better base than Spirit Bear Lodge. A designated Authentic Indigenous Tourism Operator for its significance to the Kitasoo / Xai’xais community in Klemtu, Spirit Bear Lodge is worth the short flight and boat trip.

Once you’ve settled into your serene, ocean-view accommodations, Great Bear Rainforest is just at your fingertips. Fill your days with hiking, bear-watching, canoeing, and learning about the heritage of the Kitasoo / Xai’xais peoples from your experience guides.

4. Discover Mi’kmaq Heritage in Atlantic Canada

Posted by Red Bank Lodge on Saturday, February 15, 2020

Visit an island within an island, at Lennox Island Mi’kmaq First Nation, just an hour and a half from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. There you can join a guided hike of The Path of Our Forefathers, where you’ll soak up the calming views along with family stories and interesting facts about the local ecology.

Hop across the Confederation Bridge and continue your exploration of Mi’kmaq culture with a visit to Red Bank First Nation, New Brunswick. There’s nothing like a cozy stay in Metepenagiag / Red Bank Lodge or – for even more time enjoying the outdoors – book a tipi reatreat in Metepanagiag Heritage Park. Either way, you’ll dine on traditional dishes, learn a traditional Mi’kmaq game, and listen to some of the stories that have been passed down right here for over 3,000 years.

5. Enjoy a Wine Tasting in Osoyoos

 

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In 2002, Nk’Mip Cellars became the first Indigenous-owned winery in all of North America, and their wines have already made an enormous splash, racking up about 150 awards and counting. Visit the Osoyoos winery for expert tastings, cheese pairings, and gorgeous views from the patio restaurant.

You can celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day along with Nk’Mip, thanks to Chef Orlin’s curated menu and winemaker Justin’s pairing suggestions.

6. Go Glamping in Mnidoo Mnising (Manitoulin Island)

Posted by Great Spirit Circle Trail on Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Drive up Highway 6 and teeter across the swing bridge, ride the MS Chi-Cheemaun, or fly into Manitoulin Airport – every route is bewitching. Make your way to M’Chigeeng First Nation to begin your adventure. Hike to Bridal Veil Falls, paddle around the island on a canoe heritage tour, and visit the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation: owned and operated by the Anishinaabe People of the Mnidoo Mnising. By night, book a stay in lavishly appointed teepees by Spirit Island Aventures.

For an action-packed getaway, visit Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, a community of Ojibwa, Odawa, and Pottawatomi peoples. Catch a performance by Debajehmujig Theatre Group, catch some rainbow trout in a rented ice hut, or challenge yourself at the 18-hole championship Rainbow Ridge Golf Course!

7. Herd Reindeer in the Arctic Tundra

 

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If you’re going to Northwest Territories, go all in.

Inuvialuit-owned Tundra North Tours offers NWT experiences that are nothing short of spectacular. Join an arctic outfitter to cross the chilly tundra on snowmobiles, keeping an eye out for wolves and grizzlies along the way. You’ll learn how to wrangle reindeer, build a functional igloo (and spend the night in it!), and stop by Northern communities for tasty meals and conversation.

Founder, Kylik Kisoun Taylor, is passionate about “breaking stereotypes” about Northern life by sharing Inuit culture and land with travellers. His passion shows!

 

Keep “home” at the top of your travel wish list! For tips on how to scratch your travel itch as Canada and the world re-opens, ask an Expert or stay tuned for more inspiration.

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