A new boutique hotel in Vancouver embraces First Nations artists and art in their decor. It is being billed as the first aboriginal arts hotel in Canada.
Skwachàys Lodge has 18 individual suites, each one created by an aboriginal artist and a designer. For example, the Drum Circle Suite was created with the help of Jerry Whitehead’s distinctive paintings of pow wow dancers. Using bright colours, the dancers represent the northern lights and encircle the room.
"We're looking for the culturally responsible traveller, person or people who want to spend their money in ways that have a social value," David Eddy told the CBC.
Eddy is the CEO of the Vancouver Native Housing Society which runs the hotel. The society’s mandate is to provide safe, secure and affordable house to urban aboriginal people along with seniors, youth women at risk, persons living with mental illness, the homeless and the homeless at risk.
“The designers did their work pro bono and many of their suppliers supplied us at no cost for furniture,” said Eddy.
It’s not just the custom furniture that stands out. Skwachàys Lodge also has a smudging room and is building a sweat lodge on the hotel's rooftop deck. Honouring the unceded Squamish territory the hotel sits on, it was named in a traditional ceremony by Chief Ian Campbell, the hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation.
According to the hotel’s website, “Skwachàys” is the traditional name of the area located at the head of False Creek in Vancouver. It refers to the spring waters that once covered the area.
Even the hotel`s menu is a reflection of the First Nations culture from across Canada.
"My chef is from Haida Gwaii so she's got her aboriginal twist. I'm from the prairies so I have my aboriginal twist,” said Theresa Contois of Cedar Feast House Catering.
"We've developed a menu of bison short ribs, I do a sandwich with pulled bison with rhubarb barbecue sauce,” she added.
Skwachàys Lodge is located just east of Gastown in downtown Vancouver.