Olympics Craziness – Four Host Nations Pavilion + Haida Gwaii House

Locations: The Four Host Nations First Nations Pavilion is located at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on the corner of Georgia and Hamilton.  You’ll see the large sphere building, but there’s also a second site at the theatre itself, and another down the block at the Vancouver Community College downtown campus.

The Haida Gwaii House is located in a main floor storefront of the Hampton Inn on Beatty Street near the corner of Robson Street.

Lineup Times: Depending on what you want to see at the Four Host Nations First Nations Pavilion, you can either walk right in to the artisan pavilion at the college, or you may have a 1-2 hour wait if you’re hoping to see a performance at the theater.    We waited about 15 minutes on a Saturday afternoon to get into the shops that are housed in the sphere building.

For Haida Gwaii House, you can usually walk right in, but given that it is small, you may need to wait a minute or so before getting in.

What’s Inside?

We have not yet been able to see a performance at the Four Host Nations pavilion, but they do project some of the performances outside on the sphere at night, or just broadcasting music from the performances during the day.  This, plus the new totem pole created specifically for the Olympics is a nice touch to create a welcoming atmosphere while you’re waiting.

The Aboriginal Artisan Village and Business Showcase is quite a treat – it brings together some very talented artists, from carvers, painters, jewelry makers (who carve directly into sterling silver with gorgeous, modern results), to other, less frequently showcased artist like cedar bark weavers, and birch bark biting art.

The two storey hall is well laid out and everyone seems happy to describe their craft, it was a nice change of pace from the mass-marketed olympic wares.

Back at the “main” site, the shop next to the spherical dome is beautiful just as a structure – I mean look at that ceiling!  Olympic-themed items, along with more specific art and textiles by the Four Host Nations are sold (actually, flying off the shelves!) including woven Metis scarf/belts, and a beautiful dress made out of wool blankets.  I bought a pretty standard hoodie and a keychain which we’ll turn into a Christmas tree ornament.

Inside, you could also see a few touch screens and displays about Aboriginal people involved in sport, though this primarily was a store, not a pavilion per se.

At Haida Gwaii House, they managed to fit in artwork on the walls, samples of woven crafts, carvings, screens displaying the scenery and activities you can do in the Haida Gwaii region, and lots of brochures, books and even a DVD that was being given away.  They made the small space really feel like a forested wetlands – the smell of the wood in the raw beams and walls helped hit all your senses.

Because it was so small, I didn’t take any pictures inside, sorry folks!  I didn’t want to blind the room with flash 🙂  Go check it out – it’s worth the visit.

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