The modern world is marked by a frantic pace fuelled by rapidly evolving technology and increasing expectations of around-the-clock connectedness. Amid the chaos that has infiltrated work, home and even social gatherings, many travellers are exploring Indigenous perspectives that champion physical and spiritual wellness for some of the answers to modern ills.
There are many Indigenous-owned and -operated experiences in Canada that invite guests to explore a slower, more mindful way of travelling. The accommodation providers below offer holistic experiences that forego action-packed itineraries in favour of leisurely, nature-based excursions that promote a renewed respect and understanding for the environment. Check out 7 of Canada’s best Indigenous wellness experiences.
Red Bank Lodge – a picturesque structure crafted with locally harvested cedar – sits high on the banks overlooking the Miramichi River, a world-famous fly-fishing destination. Built by the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation, the lodge features salmon pools and quiet trails, and is within walking distance of Metepenagiag Heritage Park, home to two National Historic Sites that preserve the 30,000-year-old history of the Mi’kmaq. While staying at the lodge, guests can fish for salmon (seasonally, between mid-April and October); watch for local wildlife, including bear, moose and deer; and learn how to make traditional bannock while sipping hot tea made from teaberry leaves.
Situated along Homfray Channel in the temperate rainforest of Desolation Sound, BC, Klahoose Wilderness Resort – owned and operated by the Klahoose First Nation – beckons visitors to an off-grid getaway in remote coastal wilderness. Accommodations are offered in the 6,100-square-foot cedar timber lodge, along with private one- and two-bedroom chalets surrounded by dense forest. Here, guests are welcomed by a refreshing silence occasionally punctuated by the call of soaring eagles or the splash of fish in Homfray Channel. Operating between mid-May and mid-October, the resort is hosted by Indigenous guides who lead cultural and wilderness experiences, such as grizzly bear viewing in Toba Inlet, ocean or heli fishing, and boat excursions to Klahoose’s cultural centre on Cortes Island.
Shakat Tun Wilderness Camp in Kluane National Park in Yukon (Shakat Tun means “summer hunting trails” in the Southern Tutchone language) has been Indigenous owned for generations. Located on the traditional territory of the Champagne and Ashihik First Nations, guests are treated to an energizing overnight experience in log cabins overlooking Kluane Lake, with a yurt lodge providing a welcoming space for meals and activities. Surrounding the camp are endless trails that can be explored on foot or mountain bike, as well as hikes with an Indigenous guide who shares stories about the first peoples of the region. Cultural experiences are also available, including tutorials led by Barbara on crafting medicine bags, dreamcatchers and traditional drums.
Visitors to Wendake in Quebec will find a rich array of experiences that pay homage to the history and culture of the Huron-Wendat community. The Hotel-Musée Premières Nations, a 30-minute drive from Quebec City, invites guests to immerse themselves in the land and culture of the Huron-Wendat peoples with artful decor, views of leafy forest, and soothing sounds of the tranquil Akiawenrakh’ River. The hotel’s commanding architecture was inspired by traditional Indigenous Longhouses, while its surrounding gardens and hiking trails promote reflection and rejuvenation. Travellers can share in traditions dating back thousands of years by visiting the nearby Huron-Wendat Museum, which was created to protect and promote the heritage of the Huron-Wendat people.
Haida House at Tllaal in Haida Gwaii, BC offers luxurious accommodations situated on the banks of the serene Tlell River, which flows past the longest beach in the region. Centrally located on Graham Island, the resort is home to a lush apple orchard, dense forest of aromatic cedar and Sitka, and oceanfront cabins where guests can stargaze from their private hot tub. The resort’s many eco-adventures include a boat trip to K’uuna Skedans village site in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, where remnants of carved memorial and mortuary poles carry whispers of a centuries-old community; visits with local weavers and carvers in their home studios; and an interpretive tour of the Golden Spruce Trail.
Owned by the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation, Frontier Fishing Lodge in the Northwest Territories is a newly refurbished fly-in property that has, for the past 60 years, welcomed visitors who dream of basking in the magical glow of the Northern Lights, photographing magnificent wildlife, and spend leisurely days casting a line. Beyond its unrivalled freshwater fishing and wilderness experiences, the lodge also offers cultural experiences into Thaidene Nëné, Canada’s newest National Park Reserve. The excursions – which include aurora viewing, wellness retreats and wildlife experiences – are led by an Indigenous guide who explains the park’s spiritual and cultural importance to local Dënesųłıné.
Newly opened in 2022, Nemiah Valley Lodge is located in the remote Nemiah Valley in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, BC, home of the Xeni Gwet’in and Tŝilhqot’in Nation. The eco-friendly wilderness lodge is adjacent to Tŝ’il?os Provincial Park and features one of the last remaining wild horse preserves in North America, as well as fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and grizzly bear viewing. Guests are immersed in the local way of life, with opportunities to participate in a botanical foraging walk and traditional village tour, hear oral histories, and learn weaving and beading. Accommodations include private two-bedroom log cabins ideal for families, couples and culture-seekers. The lodge operates between mid-June and mid-September.