Celebrate Hoobiyee 2024 with The Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society

Hoobiyee at Vancouver’s PNE Forum; Photo: Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society

The Nisga’a Nation, whose traditional territories are located in northwestern British Columbia, celebrate their New Year, Hoobiyee, in February and March. Over 6,000 people strong, members of the Nisga’a Nation also reside across the province, including a substantial community in Vancouver.

Hoobiyee, pronounced “Ho-bee-yeah,” can also be spelled as hobiyee, hobiiyee, and hoobiiyee. It marks the arrival of the first crescent moon—likened to the shape of the bowl of a Nisga’a wooden spoon (hoobix)—and the start of the month buxw-laks. Historically, February was usually the coldest time of year for the Nass Valley in northwestern BC when winter supplies were running low, so hoobiyee signaled a turning point in the year. Soon, the important saak (oolichan or candlefish) would arrive to the Nass River, along with all the abundance, including berries and spring salmon, of future harvesting seasons.

Both in the past and in the present, Hoobiyee celebrations are characterized by great joy, hope, healing, and cultural renewal. They occur in the Nisga’a Nation’s traditional lands, as well as in Vancouver. This year, The Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society invites everyone—members of the Nisga’a Nations, members of neighbouring Indigenous nations, as well as non-Indigenous folks—to festivities Friday, March 1st (10am to 9:30pm) and Saturday, March 2nd (10am to 9:15pm) at the PNE Forum (2901 East Hastings Street). Admission is free. Note: the location is just by the Hastings Park Winters Farmers Market, another wonderful community event, which takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm November to April at the PNE Fairgrounds.

Hoobiyee at Vancouver’s PNE Forum; Photo: Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society

Founded in 2000, the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society is a non-profit community organization based in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It supports, in a multitude of ways, the approximately 1,700 citizens of the Nisga’a Nation who live in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.

Their annual Hoobiyee celebrations provide an amazing opportunity for them to share their culture with everyone and bring diverse communities together. The theme this year is “Reclaiming Our Spirit,” with talented artist Jay Morven, a member of the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Traditional Dancers and of the Ganada tribe, contributing the 2024 Hoobiyee design. The event is very inclusive, with Nisga’a elders and children in attendance, as well as diverse families interested in taking part in the festivities. Usually, thousands of people come to the Hoobiyee event, making this a really lively and supportive cross-community gathering.

Hoobiyee 2024 design created by Jay Morven

This year’s Hoobiyee launches with a welcome cultural feast on February 29 for Nisga’a members and participating dance groups, which will feature opening protocols, blessings of the food, and a supping together on delicious food.

Hoobiyee Welcome Feast at Vancouver’s PNE Forum; Photo: Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society

Then, on Friday and Saturday (March 1-2), the PNE Forum will come alive with song, dance, eating, and plenty of community spirit. Attendees can look forward to performances from the host dancing group and from neighbouring First Nations dancing groups. The program this year features the Huu-ay-aht Dancers, the Urban Heiltsuk Dance Group, and the Gitlaxt’aamiks Ceremonial Dancers. There will also be drumming, storytelling, education, and singing—often in traditional regalia—with attendees invited to watch, learn, as well as participate when appropriate. Each day features opening and closing prayers and remarks; there is also a grand finale featuring the host dance group, the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Traditional Dancers.

Hoobiyee at Vancouver’s PNE Forum; Photo: Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society

The talent of Indigenous crafts people, artisans, and artists will also be on display at Hoobiyee. In the past, over 65 vendors and community groups had booths at the event, selling items such as clothing, jewelry, art, woven goods, and footwear. Many of these artisans employ traditional techniques that have been passed down over generations while others blend tradition with contemporary techniques and materials. Vendors to look out for include Jada Creations by Jaimie Davis, who designs and makes a variety of wearable art (e.g., jewelry), and Copper Canoe Woman, an internationally recognized jewelry designer. Attendees can enter a 50/50 draw as well.

If you get hungry, there will be a canteen selling food items (e.g., bannock), as well as food trucks (e.g., REEL Mac and Cheese) outside the PNE Forum serving their specialities.

Hoobiyee is an inspirational, feel-good event that would be ideal for everyone in the family since there is so much to watch, eat, browse/purchase, and celebrate. Further information on the 2024 Hoobiyee and the full schedule can be found here.

In addition, more thoughtful ways to learn about Indigenous culture in Vancouver can be found here.

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