INDIGE­NOUS TOURISM: RECIPE FOR SUC­CESS

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY GRE­GORY B. GAL­LAGHER

Ojib­way First Na­tions Peo­ples in Canada and the U.S. have a sim­ple yet com­plex phi­los­o­phy called “How To Live Right,” or in their lan­guage “Midewi­win.” Most Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties have sim­i­lar tra­di­tions at the heart of their fam­ily and pro­fes­sional lives.

Now the Travel and Tourism In­dus­try is wit­ness­ing these meth­ods as an in­te­gral part of Indige­nous Tourism’s recipe for suc­cess across all ar­eas of Canada.

Tim­ing is paramount for mean­ing­ful suc­cess in our tourism in­dus­try, but Indige­nous Tourism ap­pears to be head­ing for an­other record year of for­tu­itous hap­pen­ings coast-to-coast-to-coast. Fol­low­ing the dra­matic Parks Canada dis­cov­er­ies of the long-lost Franklin ships, Ere­bus and Ter­ror, in­ter­est in the North is ever more ro­bust. The 2018 fed­eral bud­get also re­flects a newly-charged na­tional con­scious­ness with Justin Trudeau’s vis­i­bil­ity across the Indige­nous di­as­pora more ev­i­dent than his pre­de­ces­sors, and the long-awaited Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion hear­ings sig­nalling sig­nif­i­cant and mean­ing­ful progress.

Tribal in­ter­ests na­tion­wide con­tinue to es­tab­lish a dy­namic menu of unique ac­tiv­i­ties for even the most trav­elled clients. Indige­nous travel and tourism prod­ucts and ser­vices of­fer last­ing mem­o­ries, steeped in the dy­namic cul­tures of the most an­cient peo­ple of Canada.

WEST

The Cross­ing at Ghost River is an en­chanted overnight Indige­nous ad­ven­ture in the Al­berta foothills be­tween Cal­gary and Banff. Guides lead cor­po­rate or pri­vate visi­tors on a jour­ney span­ning no­tions of time and cul­ture, high­lighted by tra­di­tional drum­ming and unique sto­ry­telling, walk­ing through cap­ti­vat­ing land­scapes to learn about the heal­ing plants grow­ing un­der­foot and watch­ing au­then­tic cui­sine be­ing made. Choose to stay in their com­fort­able lodge for one or two nights, set on 145 pic­turesque acres, or book a cor­po­rate re­treat and mix busi­ness with plea­sure, Rock­ies-style (www.crossing­ex­pe­ri­ence.ca).

Spirit Bear Lodge, in Bri­tish Columbia’s tiny cen­tral coast com­mu­nity of Klemtu, is 150 nau­ti­cal miles by float plane from Van­cou­ver Is­land’s north­ern-most town of Port Hardy. Pro­tected from the Pa­cific Ocean tu­mult by the largest in­tact coastal tem­per­ate rain­for­est on the planet, trav­ellers make the ef­fort to view one of the world’s great nat­u­ral mys­ter­ies—the ker­mode or spirit bear. A visit here also al­lows you to en­counter orca whales, griz­zly bears, ea­gles, ravens and a host of other in­hab­i­tants of this re­mark­able set­ting, lo­cated within the Ki­ta­soo/Xai’xais First Na­tions tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory and co-man­aged by the Ki­ta­soo Na­tion and the Prov­ince of Bri­tish

Columbia (www.spir­it­bear.com).

CEN­TRAL

The Cana­dian Mu­seum for Hu­man Rights (CMHR) opened in Win­nipeg, Man­i­toba in 2014, and has al­ready won over 37 awards, in­clud­ing the Best Non-Profit So­cial Me­dia Mar­ket­ing Cam­paign, the Award of Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment in New Me­dia and the Na­tional Cul­tural Tourism Award from the Travel In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada (TIAC). Ar­chi­tect An­toine Pre­dock’s mag­netic de­sign is mod­elled after ice, clouds and stone, and set in a field of sweet grass at the leg­endary Forks of Man­i­toba’s Red River. Ven­ture in­doors where de­signer Ralph Ap­ple­baum’s em­i­nent in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tions high­light Indige­nous cul­ture

in a hyp­notic jour­ney through time and ge­og­ra­phy, lan­guage and tra­di­tion. 2018 is the 70th an­niver­sary year of the Univer­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights, and the mu­seum is fea­tur­ing voices of Indige­nous youth across Canada through a new web­site, where hu­man rights and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion are the fo­cus (www.hu­man­rights.ca; spir­it­pan­els.hu­man­rights.ca).

If your spirit needs re­newal, visit Saskatchewan’s North­ern Plains Peo­ple. Body/mind/spirit experiences un­fold at the Wanuskewin Her­itage Park as they cel­e­brate their 25th An­niver­sary with new con­struc­tion, land­scap­ing up­grades and other surprises. Wit­ness a buf­falo hunt, ex­plore medicine wheel cir­cles, or learn about the re­la­tion­ship lo­cals main­tain with heal­ing plants, culi­nary wis­dom and the cy­cles of an­i­mals. Gather fam­ily and friends and make plans to ex­pe­ri­ence an overnight at the tra­di­tional Tipi Vil­lage (min­i­mum 15 peo­ple) from May to Oc­to­ber. Learn the tipi rais­ing tech­niques, take a medicine walk, and sit to­gether at the fire­place while cook­ing ban­nock (un­leaven bread) and learn­ing about tra­di­tional ways and the his­tory of the prairies (www.wanuskewin.com).

EAST

For great hos­pi­tal­ity in On­tario make the trip to Man­i­toulin Is­land, the largest freshwater is­land in the world. Man­i­toulin Is­land is the site of the Wi­ik­wemkoong An­nual Cul­tural Fes­ti­val. East­ern North Amer­ica’s long­est run­ning pow­wow oc­curs an­nu­ally dur­ing the Civic Hol­i­day long week­end from Au­gust 4 to 6 on Canada’s only of­fi­cially rec­og­nized “un­ceded ter­ri­tory.” Visi­tors wit­ness tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary singing, danc­ing and drum­ming of the Peo­ples of Tur­tle Is­land (North Amer­ica). En­joy au­then­tic cui­sine and crafts while ex­plor­ing the pow­wow grounds, and visit the Cul­tural Pav­il­ion where workshops, pre­sen­ta­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties abound. You may also pur­chase the Anishi­naabe­mowin Lan­guage App from the Google Play Store, fea­tur­ing 32 cat­e­gories in Three Fires Confederacy lan­guages of Odawa, Ojibwe and Pot­tawatami.

The most pop­u­lar tour, the Un­ceded Jour­ney, is an ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, as guides share sto­ries about the 1836 and 1862 Man­i­toulin Is­land treaties, in­trigue you with the lo­cal lore of Zhibzhii—the un­der­wa­ter spirit, and take you back in time to the now in­fa­mous “Man­i­toulin In­ci­dent.” Wik­wemikong Tourism hosts sev­eral other cul­tural tour pack­ages that show­case the life­styles and tra­di­tions of the Three Fires Peo­ples that share the rich his­tory, Indige­nous plant knowl­edge, tra­di­tional teach­ings and the con­nec­tion to land and water. Sat­isfy your need for cul­ture and out­door ad­ven­ture in one of the largest Indige­nous ter­ri­to­ries in Canada (www. wik­wemikong.ca).

Just out­side the UNESCO site of Old Québec City, you may dis­cover what the Huron-Wen­dake com­mu­nity calls “the his­tory we never told you.” Stay in an au­then­tic Indige­nous 4-star bou­tique ho­tel called Hô­tel-Musée Premières Na­tions, grace­fully built along the banks of the Aki­awen­rahk (St.Charles River), and now fea­tur­ing an in­door pool, fitness cen­tre and din­ing ter­race over­look­ing the river­side.

In­spired from tra­di­tional long­houses, units are con­structed with nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als such as stone, leather and wood. Or in­vite the whole fam­ily to stay in a long­house, the First Na­tions sym­bol of fam­ily, hos­pi­tal­ity and the leg­endary wel­come of Indige­nous Peo­ples world­wide. This op­tion en­cour­ages visi­tors to ex­pe­ri­ence the myths and le­gends, to taste the tra­di­tional bread (ban­nock),

have a fire keeper tend the em­bers as well as your dreams through­out the night, plus you’ll have a reg­u­lar room in the ho­tel for mod­ern con­ve­niences, and break­fast the next day at La Traite restau­rant. A must-see is the new Wen­dat Cre­ation Myth in­stal­la­tion at the west en­trance to Old Wen­dake, de­signed and built to cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary. Not to miss is the jew­ellery workshop. Ask about their “Ex­pe­ri­ence” pack­ages and ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings for chil­dren (www.touris­mewen­dake.ca).

MAR­ITIMES

New­found­land and Labrador out­door ad­ven­tur­ers trum­pet the virtues of their ma­jes­tic Torn­gat Moun­tains Inuit-led Base Camp & Re­search Sta­tion ex­pe­ri­ence, im­mers­ing par­tic­i­pants in this dreamy ge­og­ra­phy and stun­ning wildlife view­ing. The tallest moun­tains in Canada east of the Rock­ies spy over a myth­i­cal mix of fjords, rivers, flood plains and coastal wilder­ness. Torn­gat Moun­tains Base Camp treks—both Wolf and Cari­bou Ad­ven­tures—are clas­sic out­door ex­plo­rations and ri­val any wild ex­ploit world­wide (www.thetorn­gats.com).

Mi’kmaq pow­wows on Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s Len­nox Is­land ig­nite in late July; the hun­gry crowds go to the Abo­rig­i­nal Food Fes­ti­val (www.lennox­is­land.com). The In­dian Art & Craft store makes its home on the peace­ful shores of fa­mous Malpeque Bay.

New Brunswick calls ev­ery­one in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing pow­wows to a full sea­sonal menu of op­tions, from St. Mary’s First Na­tion Pow­wow which takes place June 15 to 18 at the Devon In­dian Re­serve #24, to the Pabineau First Na­tion Pow­wow at the new Fly­ing Ea­gle Me­mo­rial Pow­wow Grounds dur­ing the first week­end of July, or the Eel Ground First Na­tion Pow­wow in mid-July (www.tourism­new­brunswick.ca).

Across this bay in Nova Sco­tia, elders share sto­ries about cre­ation at the Wag­mat­cook Cul­ture and Her­itage Cen­tre (www.wag­mat­cook.com). Lis­ten to their an­cient tales teach­ing how to live prop­erly, how an­i­mals in­ter­act with the el­e­ments, and de­tails about pow­er­ful cer­e­mo­nial tools of their so­ci­ety—like the medicine wheel. Less than two hours from Hal­i­fax, view pet­ro­glyphs cre­ated by the Mi’kmaq First Na­tions Peo­ples in the 18th and 19th cen­turies at Ke­jimku­jik Na­tional Park, where it is also pos­si­ble to camp out un­der the stars (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/ke­jimku­jik).

NORTH

If Nunavut and the Cana­dian Arc­tic are on your bucket list, con­tact Ad­ven­ture Canada for ac­cess to Canada’s north­ern pas­sages aboard a cruise ship (www.ad­ven­ture­canada.com). Fol­low whales, seals and nar­whals in small Zo­diac boats up close, pho­to­graph en­dan­gered po­lar bears, or bask in the other-world­li­ness of the aurora bo­re­alis (north­ern lights) in the com­fort of your ship. If Indige­nous own­er­ship and sup­port­ing sus­tain­abil­ity in your trav­els is im­por­tant to you, book with Tun­dra

North Tours based in Inuvik, North­west Ter­ri­to­ries. They fea­ture a wide ar­ray of ex­plo­rations from river tours, to rein­deer ex­cur­sions, in­tro­duc­tory 3-day vis­its, and the 7-day Ul­ti­mate Arc­tic Ad­ven­ture

Pack­age (www.tun­dra­north­tours.com).

Kwan­lin Dün Cul­tural Cen­tre beck­ons visi­tors from June 29 to July 5 for their pop­u­lar an­nual Adäka Cul­tural Fes­ti­val— Adäka means “com­ing into the light” (www. kwan­lin­dun­cul­tur­al­cen­tre.com). Whitehorse’s wa­ter­front is the Yukon site for this colour­ful event mix­ing tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary mu­si­cal per­form­ers and creative artists from lo­cal First Na­tions tribes, as well as guest en­ter­tain­ers from Alaska, Green­land, B.C. and North­west Ter­ri­to­ries. The mélange of en­ter­tain­ment, to­gether with unique workshops and hand­made crafts, are im­bued with the in­fec­tious Yukon spirit and light guar­an­tees guests mem­o­rable fun (www. trave­lyukon.com).

?HER­ITAGE PARK HIS­TOR­I­CAL VIL­LAGE, CAL­GARY, AB

SHUT­TER­STOCK/ALINA R.

ECHOES OF A PROUD NA­TION POW­WOW, KAHNAWAKE, QC •

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