Indigenous tourism businesses in B.C. have received over $28 million for 60 projects to support recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Indigenous tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in B.C. tourism because it provides opportunities to share Indigenous cultures and experience communities in a new way,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This funding demonstrates reconciliation in action by creating and expanding tourism economic development projects with Indigenous Nations and supporting self determination for Indigenous businesses.”
StrongerBC programs such as the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP), Tourism Dependent Communities Program and Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative are part of the Province’s actions to support recovery of B.C.’s tourism sector, including Indigenous tourism. The BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund was created following the recommendations of the Tourism Task Force and created to support Indigenous tourism businesses specifically.
Through the CERIP, the Songhees Nation in Victoria received $630,000 to develop the Indigenous marine trail, which includes 12 cultural and recreational sites that are significant to the Lekwungen-speaking peoples.
“This funding has accelerated our destination development,” said Christina Clarke, CEO, Songhees Development Corporation. “As we engage with stakeholders throughout our territory, forming collaborations, negotiating business and making new friends, we are doing the work of reconciliation.”
Through the Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative, Shuswap Tourism and Secwépemc communities of Adams Lake, Little Shuswap Lake, Neskonlith, Splatsin and the Shuswap Trail Alliance received $170,000 to further the Secwépemc Landmarks project.
“The Secwépemc Landmarks project is a collaboration, in the spirit of reconciliation, that aims to raise awareness of Secwépemc traditional territory with the installation of landmarks that are situated at key visiting areas throughout the Shuswap Lakes region,” said Shelley Witzky, councillor, Adams Lake Band. “The markers are modelled after Coyote pillars, natural pillar rock formations that are of cultural significance to the Secwépemc Nation. Secwépemc artists will construct the rock base of the sculpture, symbolizing the Secwépemc presence and connection to land, and the non-Secwépemc artists will work on the connected metal artwork, symbolizing working together in a spirit of reconciliation, to share the stories, culture and oral history of our land, as shared by our Elders in Adams Lake, Neskonlith, Little Shuswap Lake and Splatsin. We welcome visitors with this art and invite them to learn more about the Secwépemc Nation.”
Indigenous tourism businesses include accommodation and resorts, outdoor adventure experiences, restaurants, tour companies, galleries and gift shops owned by Indigenous people. With 204 Indigenous communities and more than 30 Indigenous languages, British Columbia’s different regions offer extensive authentic Indigenous tourism experiences. There are over 480 Indigenous tourism businesses in B.C.
For a list of Indigenous organizations that are receiving funding, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/IndigenousTourismRecovery.pdf
Find Indigenous experiences across the province that are open for visitors: https://www.indigenousbc.com/stay-local-support-indigenousbc/
Learn how to travel responsibly as you plan your next Indigenous travel experience: https://www.indigenousbc.com/how-to-travel-responsibly
BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund Recipients: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021TACS0039-000975
Learn more about the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, Destination Development Stream: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021TACS0014-000322
Read about the Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiatives and the Tourism Dependent Communities Programs: https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/tourism-arts-culture-and-sport