The Northwest is home to a rich history of First Nations culture that dates back to time immemorial. Many opportunities exist to uncover authentic First Nations experiences that are based on the traditional lifestyle. Visit the Tsimshian communities closest to Terrace – the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum. Take a day trip to visit the Haisla in Kitamaat Village or to the Nass Valley where the ancient Lava Beds and four Nisga’a villages are waiting to be discovered.
Twenty minutes east of town is the Kitselas Canyon, a narrow passage of the Skeena River defined by tumultuous water and jagged cliffs. The canyon is home to the Gitselasu, otherwise known as the Kitselas people.
The Kitselas are one of seven Tsimshian First Nations communities in Northwestern B.C. Some remnants and residuum discovered through Archaeological research and excavations at the Kitselas Canyon have been carbon-dated to 5,000+ years, thus confirming occupancy of the Kitselas Canyon area for at least that many years.
Kitsumkalum is located just west of Terrace. As you cross the Kalum River, its log and wood buildings immediately catch your eye. Several buildings are inspired by traditional longhouses but serve different purposes. The Kitsumkalum are The People of The Robin and like all Tsimshian, the traditional society is matrilineal, which means they are organized according to the female side of the family.
At Kitsumkalum pop into The House of Sim-Oi-Ghets gift shop and general store that specializes in aboriginal arts and crafts. Adorning the storefront is a striking original west coast design, which depicts the four main crests of Kitsumkalum: Eagle, Killer Whale, Raven and Wolf. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the Robin perched at the very top.
South towards Kitimat is Kitamaat Village - home to the Haisla people. In Tsimshian the word Kitamaat means People of the Snow.
For hundreds of years the Haisla have occupied many different areas throughout their territory, but today they are primarily found at the head of the Douglas Channel on BC's North Coast.
There's lots to take in while visiting the village - historical totem poles, ocean views, trails lining the coast, two marinas, wildlife viewing, a fresh seafood restaurant and a number of First Nations artisan shops.
The dramatic landscape fused with the rich Nisga’a culture makes the Nass Valley a very unique experience. Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park or Anhluut’ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga’asanskwhl Nisga’a offers visitors a chance to explore a volcanic landscape and learn about the culture and legends of the Nisga’a people. Approximately 250 years ago a volcano erupted consuming thousands of Nisga’a citizens and forcing them to relocate their villages.
Today you can follow a self-drive auto tour that highlights the epic scenery, notable features and stories to educate visitors of the Nisga’a heritage. Be sure to drop in to the Nisga’a Visitor Centre where you can access information on special events and guided tours to the volcanic crater.
Just outside the park there are four communities - Gitlakdamix (New Aiyansh), Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City), Laxgalts’ap (Greenville), Gingolx (Kincolith). All communities are road accessible from the park. You’ll find amenities such as grocery stories, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, gift shops, gas stations and health services. Nass Camp RV Campground has 16 fully serviced RV sites, a sani-dump and a restaurant.