This may be a really stupid question but where did all of the First Natives go? For as long as I can remember I have always loved the Native American culture and was really excited to be going over to Canada for my brothers wedding as I could learn more about the culture while I was out there. I visited loads of places such as the city Totems (Duncan) and the desert and heritage centre in Nk'mip which is operated by the Osoyoos indian Band, and although I have learnt so much from these places and brought home many local crafts I would have liked to have had an insight into the past and present from the people themselves! The only first native I came accross was the receptionist at Nk'mip and she was too busy working and I did not want to bother her! Did I walk around with my eyes shut or was I visiting the wrong places?
I grew up in several different small communities throughout Ontario and Manitoba - all of which had large Native populations. I'm not sure about BC but there are Native populations in many parts of the country in smaller communities. Better luck next time!
I'm surprised you didn't meet more people from the First Nations at the cultural centre. Only the receptionist was Native? That seems pretty counterproductive...
As to why you didn't see more about Native culture, well... North America was populated by Europeans through an almost successful erradication of First Nations people. That immense blow to their way of life - and the subsequent attempts to relegate the remaining First Nations people to reserves - has produced rampant poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and extraordinarily high suicide rates among the First Nations and Innuit. Unlike, say, going to Quebec to experience the French culture that differes from the rest of the country, Native culture isn't what you'd call "thriving". It's just trying to survive.
As far as I know, about the only place you can go to experience Native culture is on the reserves themselves: they are governed by unique laws that work (in theory) to protect their way of life. Outside the reserves, you can find Native artwork in museums and parks across the country.
It is very sad...
Yeah your not going to see too many Nomadic Indians packing up there teepee's now-a-days... Our government in Canada supports them quite well.
Did you ever go to Ya-Ha-Tindi Ranch (outside of Calgary)??
Thanks for the replies!
I should have really enquired about all of this before I went to Canada, but I must admit that I was pretty nieve and expected more native culture that there was! Nevermind, i'll remember that for the future as Canada was sooo pretty, i'm sure I'll visit it again in the future! What is your advice on the best places to go in canada in general?
It's too bad you didn't start this thread before. As I remember, you were visiting Calgary and BC. I was recently in BC and met a number of natives. The Haida nation in the Queen Charlotte islands of northern BC are still a very strong and thriving community. I met a number of Haida. One lady gave me a large piece of delicious halibut and some Gao (spell?) which is dried kelp with fish eggs. They were very nice and I talked to her husband for about 3 hours. I also met a native stone carver. There are also a good number of Inuit up in northern Canada.
If you are in Ontario come up to Manitoulin Island. It is the largest freshwater Island, located in Lake Huron, about 5.5 hours north of Toronto (less by ferry). Small population of about 12,000, probably half first nations or more. There are many First Nations communities, and there is even a large tourism project called the "Great Spirit Trail" which I think involves guided tours of the communities, including Dreamers Rock where young First Nations people used to go for spiritual visions. On the east end of Manitoulin is Wikwimekong, the largest unceded Reserve in Canada.
The island is very beautiful, great beaches, hiking trails, etc.