Exploring The Indigenous Canada Through Its Tourism

Updated on Apr 28, 2024 | Canada eTA

From its northernmost boundaries to its southern territories, every nook and corner of Canada offers a huge variety of Indigenous tourism activities. So, pack your bags and prepare yourselves, your great Canadian adventure awaits you.

The term “Canada” was originally derived from the Huron-Iroquois word Kanata, which can be roughly translated to the “village.”  Jacques Cartier, an explorer, back in 1535 misinterpreted the directions he got from two Indigenous youth, and thus used the term “Canada” in reference to the region that was governed by the tribal chief Donnacona. This area is now known as Quebec City. Eventually, Canada became the term that is used for the entire land that is located at the top of the North American continent.  

Although the tourism rates had initially suffered due to the pandemic, with the increasing vaccination rates all over the world, Canada has also finally opened its borders to welcome tourists. If you have all the documents that you are fully vaccinated, there will be no problems on your way to explore the country - from the big buzzing cities to quaint tiny towns, and vast open fields! 

However, if you want to add something very interesting but a little unusual to your next trip to Canada, you might want to add a little element of Indigenous tourism to your travel itinerary. There is no dearth of activities in these unceded lands for you to participate in, along with your traveling buddies - what makes these experiences even more exciting is that they have been selected by the Indigenous people rather than just about the Indigenous people.

A Selection of More Than 1,700 Indigenous Experiences

There are more than 1,700 unique and selected indigenous tourism activities that you can experience in this first nation’s territory! If we go according to the words of Keith Henry, the CEO and president of the Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), the indigenous tourism of Canada is an excellent opportunity for tourists to connect with the native people of the land, the people who have known these lands as their home for millennia in a way that is supposed to contribute positively to their own community.

Since there are about 1700 indigenous unique experiences that the tourist can choose from, if you incorporate a few of them in your travel itinerary along with other activities, it will contribute to a great and diverse travel experience, where you will be provided with an in-depth understanding of the land and its native people. It is an experience that is unlike any other - this original adventure simply cannot be experienced from anywhere else!

What Do I Need to Know About The Indigenous People Of Canada?

There are approximately 2 million people in Canada who identify themselves as Indigenous people, which takes up about 5 per cent of the population. This includes the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. While half of this population has moved to the cities, the other half of them still live in the 630 First Nations and 50 Inuit communities that exist in Canada. Every single one of these tribes and communities is immensely rich in terms of its culture, heritage, governance, and often even language. However, that does not mean that they are absolutely cut off from one another, they often have some commonalities, which include deep-seated respect for their elders, emphasis on the great significance of their oral traditions, and a connection to nature and their land. 

Although they were originally getting lost due to the growth of urbanization, the Indigenous cultures have recently started to get reclaimed and rejuvenated by the Indigenous community in Canada. If we spark in broader terms, Canada has recently started to recognize their rich history along with the systematic discrimination that the Indigenous people are often subjected to. This new process of reconciliation has started to give birth to a new and mutually respectful relationship amongst the people of Canada, and tourism plays a big part in it. 

Indigenous tourism is a big support for the revitalization process and the broader knowledge of the Indigenous culture in an engaging but fun way is a method through which the Indigenous culture can be rediscovered and shared throughout the world. Tourism has opened new opportunities for the communities to actively share their stories with the world, and in the process, reclaim their cultures, languages, and history, be proud of who they are, and share this with the world. 

Who Are the Original People Of Canada?

Original People Of Canada

If you are willing to learn more about the indigenous people of Canada, the best way to do so is through the “Destination Indigenous website.” If you head over to the newly added signs part of the website, you can get a deep knowledge of the new flame and double O symbol of "The Original Original" brand mark. First unveiled recently on the National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) 2021, this new mark is an identity of the tourism businesses that are owned by at least 51 per cent of the indigenous people. This is a way to embrace the values of indigenous tourism, offering experiences tailored to the needs of the market, and are ITAC members.

What Are the Traditional Territories Of the Unceded Land?

When you visit Canada and wish to be a part of the indigenous tourism activities, you will notice that this will take you to the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples. This includes the reserved land which has been recognized by the land claims and is self-governed or is simply an unceded land. As the European population started to colonize what we know today as Canada, they brought into action the notion of the nation-state and engaged in treaties of differing degrees of fairness - with several First Nations. Today we can tell that more treaties were signed in the eastern and central zones as compared to the western regions. 

For example, about 95 per cent of the land of British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada, falls under the category of unceded First Nations territory. Thus, if you travel to the city of Vancouver, you are setting your foot into the traditional and unceded territory of the three Coast Salish Nations — the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh).


When you visit Vancouver, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to Indigenous tourism activities. Other than just simply visiting the museums and galleries, which also feature art and artefacts from Indigenous people, you can also visit Stanley Park, along with the cultural ambassador from Talaysay Tours. Here you can learn how the people from indigenous tribes used to harvest plants in the temperate rainforests for food, medicine, and technology. You can also learn about the rich history and many traditions of the Indigenous people who live in this land. On a different note, if you opt for the Takaya Tours, you can paddle through the waters that surround Vancouver, which have been created to replicate the traditional ocean-going canoe and also learn about the different traditions and customs of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

If you are a big foodie, you will be amused by the indigenous foods, such as bison, candied salmon, and bannock (unleavened bread) that are offered at Salmon n' Bannock, the one and only indigenous owned and operated restaurant in Vancouver, according to their official site. You will also fall in love with the Indigenous fusion tacos and burgers from the Mr Bannock food truck, which also gives out premade bannock mixes you can take home!

For the staying part, you will be given the option of 18 boutique rooms at the Skwachàys Lodge, the first Indigenous arts hotel in Canada. Here you will be able to experience the indigenous art and culture, and it also helps out two social enterprises by providing them with much-needed support. It includes an excellent artist-in-residence program.


This Essipit Innu First Nation has been providing tourism activities since 1978, with an added emphasis on experiencing the abundant nature in the Innu lands. People who belong to the larger Innu Nation live in this eastern section of Quebec predominantly, and on the Labrador Peninsula that falls in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. You can take part in the whale watching tour of the Essipit Innu Nation in the St. Lawrence River estuary - here you can get a glimpse of the humpback, minke, and fin whales, and maybe even blue whales and belugas! 

The other activities that are offered here include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and fishing. Visitors are also free to take part in black bear (mashku) watching and learning how the Innu traditions are related to the animal. Entreprises Essipit will offer you a variety of accommodations, which often also includes excellent views of the river, where one can witness whales swimming by.


Nunavut territory’s Baffin Island is an extremely important piece of land that is situated in the far north, and here, you can select from the numerous in-depth experiences that are offered by the Inuit guides. Based in the Arctic Bay, the Arctic Bay Adventures is an Inuit community that consists of about 800 people, and also falls among one the most northerly communities in the world. 

The Life on the Floe Edge tour is a 9-day tour that will take you on an experience of 24 hours of sunlight. Here, you have an increasingly high chance of spotting polar bears, narwhals, walrus, and beluga and bowhead whales, when you are camping on the Admiralty Inlet ice. Here you will also be taught how to build an igloo the traditional way, go dog sledging, meet Inuit elders, and overall experience an extremely culturally rich part of Canada that not many people get to cherish!

If you want to experience the great scenic beauty of Canada at its absolute best, there is simply no way to do it better than through Canada’s excellent long-distance train network. Learn more at Extraordinary Train Trips - What Can You Expect On The Way.

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