OVER THE THREE-DAY Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Victoria, Canada, I witnessed the great pride of elders as they watched their children and grandchildren dance, drum and sing, celebrating and preserving their rich culture.
We were a mix of Indigenous people, some in colourful regalia, and non-Indigenous people that included local mayors, business leaders, and myself. We paddled in sync to the shared traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to ask for permission to come ashore, a time-honored protocol. It was a historic day, as this had never been done before in the history of Victoria.
Chief Ron Sam of Songhees First Nation welcomed us ashore and stated the significance of the canoe ceremony when he said:
“You know I think it’s important, the acknowledgment, when we’re all in a canoe, pulling in the same direction. You know, I think that’s what we want to achieve on a daily basis.”
It was an honour to be in one of 3 First Nations canoes during the historic Welcoming of Canoes ceremony. Watch a short 30-second video of my experience.
For authentic Indigenous cultural experiences, attractions and events in Canada, visit:
Lifeguard station at Cherry Beach in Toronto, Canada.
Cherry Beach in Toronto, Ontario is my go-to beach for it’s laid back atmosphere. It’s my favourite place to sit by the lake and take some time out. It is much less crowded than the other Toronto beaches.
There are toilet facilities, a food truck and an off-leash dog park. You’ll often see kite boarders, kayakers, stand up paddle boarders and wind surfers. There are barbeque facilities as well, just bring the charcoal.
Cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Vancouver and area. We found these ones in South Surrey in March 2016 while we were on a family trip during March Break. As a resident of Toronto, have to say I was a little jealous of their cherry blossom trees. Not only do they bloom earlier than us, they have many more trees than we do in Toronto, at least, it seemed that way. We saw trees everywhere we looked from Vancouver to Abbotsford.
Vancouver celebrates the Sakura trees and even has a Cherry Blossom Festival. In 2016, it runs from March 24 to April 17th.
For more information about the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival including a map of cherry tree locations, visit here. The map helped us find the trees pictured above.
One of my favourite drives into the city and spot to view the CN Tower. Also, a partial view of the Rogers Centre (white roof). It was formerly named Skydome, I think I’ll always think of it as that. The Rogers Centre is home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and until last year, the Toronto Argonauts football team. It was opened in 1989 and has a fully retractable roof and hotel attached to it with many rooms overlooking the field.
A First Nations dancer from the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers group performs at the 2nd annual Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Victoria, British Columbia, June 2015. The Lekwungen dancers are from the Songhees Nation and the wolf is the symbol of the Songhees, traditionally known as Lekwungen.
This festival celebrates the rich First Nations culture in British Columbia. Dancers, singers and artists come from all over Vancouver island and mainland British Columbia and some from other parts of Canada. The festival coincides with Aboriginal Day in June. If you love festivals and want to learn about and join in celebrating First Nations culture, get to Victoria in June.
For more information about this festival, visit here.
One of my favourite things to do when I visit British Columbia is to go on a whale watching tour. I’ve been to BC several times and have been on many whale watching tours in Victoria, Tofino and Vancouver, British Columbia.
While on a sunset whale watching tour in the waters of the Salish Sea near Victoria, we were surrounded by a family of orca whales. Suddenly, an orca whale came out of the water to check us out.
Shortly after the above photo was taken, a mother and baby orca swam under our boat, twice. We also had a rare opportunity to watch Orca whales as they taught their young how to hunt for porpoises and saw a humpback whale and seals. It was my favourite whale watching tour to date.
I highly recommend Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, British Columbia for these reasons:
They are Canada’s first carbon-neutral, eco-adventure whale watching company