War canoe races and ancient games

War canoe races at the Seabird Island First Nations Festival. Photo: Sandra Bobb.

The Lower Mainland is in spring party mode this weekend, with festivals for everyone from gourmands (Eat! Vancouver: Food + Cooking Festival) to half-pints (Surrey Children’s Festival) and chuckleheads (Vancouver Comic Arts Festival). The Seabird Island Band adds to the fun with its annual three-day celebration of native heritage with an emphasis on sport.

Between ball hockey and soccer tournaments there will be traditional war canoe races and matches of Slahal. Bouts of the ancient stick game can sometimes carry on until the wee hours of the morning before a winner is declared. Participants can enjoy drumming and singing presentations while perusing the array of feather earrings, dreamcatchers, and other works from artisans across B.C. And after working up an appetite, they can indulge in a traditional salmon barbecue.

Camping is free on a first-come-first-served basis.


Sea Bird Island, 16 square kilometres in size, is located northeast of Agassiz in the Fraser Valley. It was named for a paddlewheeler that ran aground in June 1858 and is home to a mix of Sto:lo and Thompson peoples, with a total population of 700. Locals welcome 10,000 or so visitors for the Seabird Island First Nations Festival each year.

For more info see seabirdisland.ca.

To learn about other events taking place in the region this weekend, see the events listings at Hellobc.com.


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