First Nations ring in lunar new year with Hobiyee celebration

More than 500 singers and dancers participated in Nisga’a Hobiyee celebration in Vancouver.

More than 500 singers and dancers participated in Nisga’a Hobiyee celebration

The beats of drums and sounds of traditional songs echoed in Vancouver as First Nations celebrated Hobiyee. More than 7,000 people filled the PNE on the weekend, to take part in the annual event.

The celebration marks the new year for the Nisga'a people, and coincides with the waxing of the crescent moon in February.

Hobiyee stems from the Nisga'a word Hoobixis-hee, which refers to the bowl end of a wooden spoon.

According to the Nisga'a Nation website, if the moon is crescent shaped then this signifies a bountiful coming harvest for the Nisga'a people. If the crescent of the moon is closed, then it foreshadows a poor harvest.

First Nations groups participating in the event included the Git Hayetsk, Kwhlii Gibaygum and Iswalh dance groups.

Approximately 500 singers and dancers from eight B.C. First Nations sang and danced to songs from their homelands.

Hobiyee originated in the Nass Valley, home of the Nisga's peoples.

The ceremony was revived in 1991, and is now celebrated in the Nass Valley and other locations where many Nisga'a live. More than 1,500 Nisga'a make their home in the Vancouver region.


Wawmeesh George Hamilton is an award winning journalist/photographer and a three-time BC-Yukon Community Newspaper Association award winner. He has garnered three Canadian Community Newspaper Association awards and was a 2018 Webster Award nominee. He graduated in 2016 with an MA from the UBC graduate school of journalism. He is a member of the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni, B.C. @Wawmeesh