Thousands ring in lunar new year with Hoobiyee and the beat of the drum

The stadium at the PNE came alive with traditional song, dance and beats of drums as First Nations celebrated Hoobiyee in Vancouver.

Festival unites Nisga'a and other First Nations traditions in Vancouver

Thousands of people, young and old, came to celebrate the Nisga'a Nation's lunar new year, known as Hoobiyee at the PNE Forum on Friday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The beat of drums and sounds of traditional songs echoed through the PNE Forum on Friday, as thousands came to celebrate the Nisga'a Nation's lunar new year, known as Hoobiyee. 

Hoobiyee began as the celebration of the return of oolichan — an important food source for the Nisga'a —  to B.C.`s northern rivers. Following tradition, the shape of the moon at this time will foretell how bountiful food will be for the year ahead.

The Nisga'a Nation is located in the Nass Valley in northern B.C,. but more than 1,400 Nisga'a live in Vancouver.

Hoobiyee has grown significantly over the years and has become a cultural touchstone for Indigenous people in Vancouver. It creates a space for many groups to share stories and performances specific to their nation. 

The free two-day event wraps up on Saturday. 

Organizers of the celebration expect 7,000 people to come through the doors on Friday and Saturday for the free event that is open to everyone. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
The cultural event brings over 700 performers together who after individual performances come together for a grand joyous entry. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
Rocky Mathias-Joe of the Squamish First Nation was one of thousands celebrating Hobiyee at the PNE on Friday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
Melanie Mark who is Nisga' a, Gitxsan, Cree, Ojibway, French and Scottish said a few words and danced at the celebration. The NDP MLA from Vancouver-Mount Pleasant is the first First Nations woman to be elected to B.C.' s legislature, and the first First Nations woman to be appointed to cabinet. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
Hoobiyee originated in northern B.C.'s Nass Valley, home of the Nisga's peoples. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
There are more than 7,000 Nisga'a citizens. More than 1,400 Nisga'a live in Vancouver. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
The ceremony was revived in 1991 and has become a cultural touchstone for Indigenous people in Vancouver. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
Seven hundred performers came together for a grand entry. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
The grand entry is marked by a drum drill which features a hundred drummers. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
The two-day event wraps up on Saturday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)