When visitors arrive at Skwachàys Lodge in Vancouver, BC, they often have no idea of what to expect.
They typically come — according to general manager Maggie Edwards — because of the affordable rate, availability or perhaps because of the striking images of this unique property that they’ve seen online or in the media.
“But as soon as they walk through our doors and see the art that we have on display, their curiosity is piqued,” says Edwards. “Then, conversations start and education begins."
This exceptional hotel and gallery — an award-winning social enterprise that doubles as a housing operation for Indigenous artists-in-residence — was formally named by Chief Ian Campbell, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, whose territory includes the property where the lodge was built.
“Skwachàys” is what the area was traditionally referred to, acknowledging the region’s spring waters — considered by the Squamish people to be a portal to the spirit world.
While visiting the lodge, guests can experience a traditional First Nations sweat lodge along with private sweat lodge purification ceremonies led by a First Nations elder.
Each room is unique, with diverse themes ranging from the Feather Suite to the Paddle Suite. Visitors also have access to the lodge’s Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery, where they can meet and speak with Indigenous artists in person.
“We have a tremendous impact on what a hotel experience can look like. But critically, we also help guests better understand Indigenous culture in Canada,” says Edwards. "This is honestly the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”