Hobiyee 2024 in Vancouver a celebration of cultural resiliency and healing



​​​Staff from the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) were on hand to witness the celebration of Hobiyee, marking the start of a new year for the Nisga'a Nation. Hobiyee refers to the Nisga'a word hoobix, meaning spoon, and representing the last crescent moon of February. If the crescent of the moon is open, it means it will be a bountiful year for the Nisga'a.

There were over 1,000 traditional dancers from 16 dance groups performing for over 10,000 witnesses flowing into the PNE Forum in Vancouver March 1-2. Hosted by the Nisga'a Ts'amiks Vancouver Society, it was the nineteenth annual Hobiyee gathering held in the city to bring together urban Nisga'a and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. 

“In the Lower Mainland we're so spread out. This event brings families together. The last two days I met three family members I didn't even know I had," says Anthony Robinson, CEO of Nisga'a Ts'amiks, adding that the theme of this year's gathering was “Reclaiming Our Spirit."

“To me it's getting back to cultural roots and rejoicing with everybody as First Nations."

The following video clip showcases the grand finale when the Nisga'a Ts'amiks Traditional Dancers took the main stage to dance in the Nisga'a chiefs.​


The traditional territory of the Nisga'a ​​Nation sits in the Nass Valley in northwestern BC, approximately 1,400 kilometres north of Vancouver. With over 1,700 Nisga'a people residing in Vancouver and Vancouver Island areas, holding a Hobiyee celebration for urban members is important for keeping Nisga'a people connected to their culture. 

“For me, living in Vancouver and being an urban Indigenous woman, I don't always get home. So I like to stay connected to my people and our spirituality and our traditions," says Denene O'Brien, a Nisga'a woman originally from the village of Lax̱g̱alts'ap and belonging to the Laxgibuu (Wolf) clan.

There are four clans within the Nisga'a Nation, including the Laxgibuu (Wolf), Laxsgiik (Eagle), Ganada (Raven) and Giskaast (Killerwhale) with many wilps or house groups within those clans.


Denene O'Brien (left) with fellow Nisga'a woman Vanessa Clayton at Hobiyee 2024 (Photos submit​ted by Denene O'Brien)

“Our matriarchal lineage keeps us connected to Mother Earth, connected to the animals, connected to respect of what we receive and the wolf gives us our spiritual power. For me, that's what it's all about," says O'Brien, a spiritual coach and standup comedian who shares her story of overcoming addiction on stage. She is 17 years free of alcohol and drugs.

For Robinson and the staff at Nisga'a Ts'amiks, that's a positive message of health and wellness that they love to see get shared at Hobiyee. 

“When people are lost in addictions and they come here, they forget everything about their troubles," says Robinson. “I have family members that went through that and when they come to an event like this, your cultural part of you comes out. It's traditional medicine." 

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