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Indigenous experiences and gifts for the holidays

From jewelry to soap, these gifts promise to leave the recipient smiling.

As the holidays get closer and we ponder the unique, thoughtful gifts and experiences we can give our loved ones, we’ve selected a few experiences and handcrafted items that are both memorable and support local Indigenous communities.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

From exhibits and guided walking tours to workshops, there’s an activity to enjoy for everyone at the stunning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. Visitors can learn about B.C.’s rich Indigenous culture through the centre’s exhibitions or take part in crafting traditional Indigenous art such as cedar paddle necklaces or hand drum ornaments. With an array of activities, including a cafe to relax and enjoy a meal, along with a gift shop full of unique items, a day trip to spend here with loved ones is well worth it.

Salmon n' Bannock

Vancouver’s only Indigenous-owned-and-operated restaurant uses traditional authentic flavours to create wonderful and delicious modern dishes. Their signature bannock is a staple for every order, along with their Pow Wow Salad — a sensational blend of delicious grains including Ojibway wild rice, cucumbers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, organic greens, arugula with rotating dressing, topped with four ounces of wild house smoked sockeye salmon. Get a side of cedar jelly to add to the bannock, and a festive meal is set! With dine-in, take-out, and delivery options available, Salmon n' Bannock gives diners several opportunities to explore Indigenous cuisine.

Spirit Water Spa at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort 

Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is located in the traditional homelands of the Ktunaxa (pronounced K-too-nah-ha) people, in Kootenay Lake, British Columbia. Historically, the Ktunaxa people have utilized the local hot spring as a place for healing. After battle, warriors would soak in the spirit waters (nupika wu’u) to ease the wounds sustained in the fight to defend the beautiful territory. Those living with other ailments such as arthritis would also soak in the hot pool to relieve their pain. Today, the Lower Kootenay Band offers a unique hot springs experience nestled into the mountainside along the shores of Kootenay Lake. Try: the full body medicinal plant treatment at Spirit Water Spa, which wraps the entire body in a steamy hot medicinal cloth. Wild seasonal medicinal plants harvested from the local Kootenay area are steeped and incorporated into the wrap. The fast-acting plant medicines are absorbed into muscles and tissues to help relieve sore muscles and inflammation, encouraging the body to relax more fully during the massage (60 minutes, $130).

RavenSong Soap

As part of a new collection launching in time for the opening of the new RavenSong Soap and Candle store in Campbell River, Valerie Lamirande, the creator and founder has dedicated her Devil’s club Indigenous tea soap to precious and traditional Indigenous herbs. Devil’s club is a spiritual plant native to the Pacific Northwest and has been used for centuries by First Nations for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. The plant has antimicrobial properties and is often used to treat inflammatory skin conditions. This innovative bar has been made with steeped Devil’s club and scented with traditional essential oils of Devil’s club, birch and cedarwood. Starting at $9.

Season of change 

This incredible sterling silver dragonfly pendant is hand-carved and crafted by Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation artist Chris Cook III. The head and the body of the dragonfly are presented with a semi-precious stone, Lapis Lazuli. The dragonfly traditionally represents a symbol of change, transformation and swiftness, and Lapis Lazuli is a symbol of wisdom and truth. Price: $420.

Dorothy Grant hummingbird silk scarf

The hummingbird teaches one to appreciate and love the miracle of living and to focus on the positivity in life. Hummingbirds are often seen as joyful messengers and healers. With their personality, agility, and an endless supply of energy, many people feel that hummingbirds can help guide and support people through some of life’s more difficult challenges. For many, they also symbolize love, wonder, and beauty. Give the gift of the hummingbird with Dorothy’s intricate silk scarf. Price: $75.