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first nations art

Totems in the Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site.

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT With its commitment to First Nations art and ongoing scholarship program, YVR has one of the most impressive public collections of aboriginal art. From Bill Reid's monumental bronze Jade Canoe (depicted on the Canadian $20 bill) and Joe David's Welcome Figures to Susan A. Point's massive, 5-metre Flight Spindle Whorl and rotating exhibits in cases in the international terminal, there are more than 180 sculptures, carvings, masks, poles, panels, paintings and weavings to see. Visit the YVR website for a map.

STANLEY PARK There are nine totem poles in Totem Park, just off the seawall at Brockton Point, carved between 1955 and 2009 by some of the province's most influential carvers. Poles here represent a variety of First Nations, from the killer whale and thunderbird of the Chief Wakas Kwakiutl pole (a copy of a pole raised in Alert Bay in the 1890s), to Norman Tait's Nisga'a beaver crest pole and Bill Reid's Haida mortuary pole.

MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY The MOA, on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, is the premier place to view Northwest Coast art and artifacts. Housed in a stunning space designed by Arthur Erickson, and with a vast collection, MOA initiated carving programs in the 1950s, restoring old poles and creating new ones. Don't miss the stunning yellow cedar carving The Raven and the First Men by Haida artist Bill Reid, depicting the Haida creation story.

BILL REID GALLERY OF NORTHWEST COAST ART This downtown Vancouver gallery is both museum and art gallery, filled with the beautiful things the late Bill Reid created, from exquisite jewellery to carvings in wood, stone and precious metals, and rotating displays of contemporary West Coast aboriginal art.

SQUAMISH LIL'WAT CULTURAL CENTRE This new museum in Whistler joins the two First Nations in the region under one roof, with traditional art, craft and artifacts including cedar baskets, button blankets and massive carved spindle whorls depicting the history of weaving here. The SLCC Café features First Nations cuisine, from venison chili to bannock panini sandwiches.

'KSAN VILLAGE MUSEUM A living museum and cultural centre, this historical First Nations village in Hazelton is open for tours with local guides. Complete with several longhouses with decorated house fronts, totem poles and artifacts, it offers a glimpse into early Gitxsan village life.

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN B.C. In Prince Rupert, you can see the work of many contemporary Haida and Tsimshian carvers, both in the stunning longhouse museum overlooking the waterfront and on street corners throughout the city. It's here you'll find original poles carved by important artists like Freda Diesing and Dempsey Bob.

ROYAL BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM The provincial museum in Victoria has a large collection of carvings, masks, artifacts and both historic and contemporary poles, some inside the museum building, some outdoors in Thunderbird Park. Don't miss Mungo Martin's raven masks in the First Peoples Gallery and the traditional longhouse.

KITSELAS CANYON This newly established national historic site is another recreated village, just east of Terrace, complete with carved poles (right) and longhouses, displays of carving and weaving, and tours for the public. Tsimshian First Nations have occupied this site for more than 10,000 years.

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