A New Take on Native Art: Shawn Hunt at Blanket gallery

In Vancouver, we’re surrounded by Northwest Coast art, from the totem poles in Stanley Park to the intricate sculptures in the Bill Reid Gallery.  Even if you’re not a big fan, you can probably instantly recognize the style – bold colors, clearly outlined forms and a repetition of basic shapes.

All of which makes a new exhibition of Northwest Coast art at downtown’s Blanket Contemporary Art gallery unique.   The show by local artist Shawn Hunt offers a dramatically new, and sometimes controversial, take on a tradition that stretches back thousands of years.

Hunt’s pieces use unconventional colors and distort common shapes.  He also tackles taboo subjects, like eroticism and cultural conflict, that rarely surface in traditional aboriginal art.

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A New Take on Native Art: Shawn Hunt at Blanket gallery

Squamish for Dummies: Cool new Squamish-English dictionary

So, have you picked up your copy of the Skwxwu7mesh Snichim-Xweliten Snichim Skexwts yet?

In case you’re not fluent, that translates as Squamish-English Dictionary.   The book, containing about 8,000 words in the Squamish language spoken by B.C.’s Aboriginal Squamish peoples, has just been completed by a team of elders, linguists and researchers after 18 years of work.

The challenges facing the team were enormous.

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Squamish for Dummies: Cool new Squamish-English dictionary

Klahowya Village: First Nations living museum in Stanley Park reopens

Photo Credit: Remy Scalza

In the Chinook Jargon of the Pacific Northwest, the word klahowya means “Welcome” and “How are you?”  So it comes as little surprise that a warm welcome is exactly what visitors experience when they step into Klahowya Village,  the interactive First Nations exhibit in Stanley Park just reopened for its second season.

Located at Stanley Park’s Miniature Train Plaza, the Village offers a fun immersion into the cultures of Vancouver’s original inhabitants.  The site features a unique combination of cultural displays and demonstrations, interactive activities sure to please the kids and – perhaps most important of all – authentic aboriginal cuisine.

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Klahowya Village: First Nations living museum in Stanley Park reopens

First Nations Cuisine in Stanley Park

Photo: Remy Scalza

Finding authentic cuisine from around the world is rarely a problem in Vancouver.  The city boasts the best Chinese food in North America and more sushi joints per capita than just about anyplace outside Japan, not to mention great Persian, Indian, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants.

But Aboriginal cuisine – the traditional dishes enjoyed by Vancouver’s own First Nations communities – has always been hard, if not impossible, to find here.  Bannock bread and candied salmon are sometimes available at special ceremonies (like at the Aboriginal pavilion at the Olympic Games), but – at least during the last few years – not many restaurants in Vancouver have offered a menu dedicated to Aboriginal cooking.

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First Nations Cuisine in Stanley Park

Vancouver’s Urban Powwow: July 9-11

Photo: Remy Scalza

During the Olympics, First Nations culture took the spotlight in Vancouver, with performances and dancing throughout the city and even an Aboriginal Pavilion dedicated to sharing values and legends.  But this isn’t always the case.  While there are museum exhibits devoted to First Nations history, as well as a wealth of galleries showcasing traditional carvings, finding vibrant displays of contemporary, authentic Aboriginal culture isn’t always easy.

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Vancouver’s Urban Powwow: July 9-11