Exploring the Lower Mainland Through a Critical Lens

The past month in Vancouver has been quite busy! Since my last trip to the Okanagan at the end of June, I’ve been working a lot and have had plenty of opportunities to explore Vancouver. Recently, I’ve mostly been exploring sites in Vancouver and surrounding cities, trying to examine everything I see through a critical lens. Here are some of the highlights!


Canada Day at Canada Place

This year, I spent Canada Day outside of the Okanagan and got to experience Canada Day at Canada Place. This massive event is a big draw for thousands of guests all across the Lower Mainland, and all of Canada I’m sure! Canada Place hosts the biggest Canada Day celebration in the country. It was pretty spectacular to be a part of – both at the festivities during the day, and the fireworks at night. That said, this time of year always brings out my critical side. If you want to read about my critical thoughts of nationalism in Canada (and other countries), check out this post from last year!

canada day 1

Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is one of my favourite places to visit, and I am so glad I have the opportunity to visit quite frequently because of my work! The last time I visited, I checked out their new exhibit, Vortex. It’s an art installation about the impacts of plastic on our oceans. It was jaw-droppingly incredible, and I highly recommend checking out this exhibit if you are at the aquarium! They also have a #BePlasticWise pledge that you can sign to monitor your use of plastics. Especially with the topical conversation of plastic straws right now, this is a great pledge to consider signing to remind yourself to always be mindful of the plastics we are using and our impact on the environment!

van aquaaaaa

Science World

Science World is a favourite for many Vancouverites, and I had never been to visit before! I was super excited to check it out with one of my colleagues. It was really interesting, and featured tons of interactive and informative exhibits. If you are someone that thoroughly enjoys science, I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already! The spectacular scenery nearby is also a plus.

science world
bc place 3

Museum of Vancouver

I also recently visited the Museum of Vancouver, which offers a broad history of the city of Vancouver. I was very pleasantly surprised by this museum and its dedication to acknowledging Vancouver’s colonial history and the role that privilege has played, and continues to play, in the lives of so many Vancouverites. It was shockingly refreshing, and many exhibits challenged our preconceived notions of Vancouver and how we may currently live. One exhibit featured an in-depth look at the colonial history of Vancouver, acknowledging that Vancouver is located on unceded Coast Salish First Nations territory. Another exhibit critically examined how we interact with the nature that continuously surrounds us, and how we can do so in a more sustainable way. A final exhibit looked at Vancouver’s “ugly” past of neon signs, questioning the controversy surrounding the removal of neon signs in the 70s, which drastically altered Vancouver’s urban landscape. I would highly recommend visiting MOV if you haven’t already done so, and make sure to check out these feature exhibits before they’re gone!


Granville Island

One of my favourite areas of Vancouver is Granville Island. There is something about being able to walk about the area and explore, especially in the market, which features food, vendors, and more. Of course, you can’t go wrong with incredible views of False Creek either. And walking from Granville Island towards Kitsilano Beach provides you with even more incredible views of English Bay. Defintiely one of my favourite outdoor areas to explore, and if the Vancouver heat hasn’t quite gotten you down yet, I would recommend taking advantage of exploring all that this beautiful city has to offer outdoors.

granville isl
beach walks

Lower Mainland

North Vancouver

I have had the chance to explore North Vancouver a little bit, and I am excited to continue to explore this city over the next few months. North Vancouver is easily accessible from downtown Vancouver via the sea bus, which docks at the Lonsdale Quay, a beautiful waterfront area to explore. The Shipyards Night Market is hosted near the Quay every Friday night. The market features food and craft vendors and live music. It is free to enter, and you can enjoy the market for as long as you would like! And who wouldn’t want to enjoy these incredible views?

north van 2


Another market I had the chance to visit recently was the Richmond Night Market. Unlike Shipyards, you have to pay to enter this market, but it is definitely worth it! This night market is the largest in all of North America, and people travel from all over the world to visit. It features specialty cuisine, games, a fair, and more. The majority of the cuisine is from Asian countries, as it originally started out as an Asian market. Its roots are definitely still prominent, and it is incredible how quickly it has grown from its start in 2000! If you haven’t already made it to the Richmond Night Market, make sure to check it out on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday night – and its open late 🙂

richmond night market
richmond night market 2

I have had a great time exploring Vancouver and surrounding cities in the Lower Mainland, and I always endeavour to embrace new things through a critical perspective. It is especially important for me to always acknowledge Vancouver’s colonial history, and how colonialism continues to impact all of our lives. I would love to hear your thoughts about colonialism and privilege in Vancouver, and BC as a whole. Did you grow up in Vancouver? What has your experience been like? Let me know in the comments!

Stay updated on my latest adventures by following the hashtag #chiaratakesvancouver on Instagram 🙂

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