Dancers of Damelahamid, together with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, present the 11th Coastal First Nations Dance Festival (Feb 27-Mar 4), an annual celebration of Indigenous stories, song and dance from Canada and abroad.

Here are five reasons we think you should go:

1. An Original

The Coastal First Nations Dance Festival is the only aboriginal dance festival in Canada.

2. Fly Boy

For the first time ever, the festival welcomes Gwich’in fiddler Boyd Benjamin, whose day job includes flying for Air Canada (he calls himself the name ‘Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler’). Boyd has performed with stars as Buffy Saint-Marie and Ashley MacIsaac and achieved the Special Youth Award at the 2008 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards. He went on to play at the 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad and he and fellow player Kevin Barr continue to be in high demand.

3. The Coastal Sami

The festival also welcomes a Scandinavian artist, Stina Therese Lorås Hessaa, for the first time. Of Norwegian-Sami heritage, Stina is a postmodernistic dancer, performer, playwright and theatre director from Trondheim, Norway. The Coastal Sami culture is almost extinct because of aggressive colonialization during the last 400 centuries. Hessaa is one out of a handful of people working to spread knowledge of the Sami people.

4. Workshop Mash-ups

Hawaiian artist, Peter Espiritu, and Cree hoop dancer, Jessica McMann, will lead an expanded series of workshops, a unique opportunity for mentors and youth to connect and learn traditional art forms, such as hoop dancing.

5. The Great Hall

The festival takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Museum of Anthropology’s great hall. It’s a feast for the eyes with displays of large totem poles, house posts, carved figures, textiles and canoes from the Northwest Coast.