2018 Indigenous Tourism Forum
On November 7th, Experience Qalipu hosted the second annual Indigenous Tourism Forum in Rock Harbour, NL. This event is held each year to highlight the growing Indigenous tourism industry, communicate Experience Qalipu’s tourism strategy, provide local examples of Indigenous experiences and share best practices with other First Nation groups.
The event included many experiential elements starting with a welcoming campfire. More than 30 people gathered in the Gros Morne Visitor Information Centre to participate in a ceremonial smudge, a talking circle, and drumming. This opening event was led by local knowledge keeper, Scott Butt.
The second day included educational presentations and experiences. The keynote speaker from Indigenous Tourism Ontario, Kevin Eshkawkogan, explained his role in the creation of the Great Spirit Circle Trail on Manitoulin Island, an excellent example of a successful Indigenous tourism venture. Kevin shared many helpful tips on planning and creating Indigenous tourism experiences while remaining respectful to the land. One of Kevin’s most important pieces of advice was to know your own story and to remain authentic.
Robert Bernard presented on behalf of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC). Robert shared the five-year national Indigenous tourism strategy. This presentation highlighted the importance of the Indigenous tourism industry and how much it has grown. ITAC has exceeded most of their five-year goals in its first three years.
The first experiential element of day two started at lunchtime with world class chef, Murray McDonald. Chef Murray prepared a locally harvested meal featuring moose, rabbit and cod. He also took the opportunity to explain the burgeoning Indigenous food industry.
After a full day of presentations, Scott Butt led participants on a medicine walk around the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and delivered a teaching on the crafting of spruce root baskets. After showing the participants how to the baskets are created, Scott passed around the baskets for people to try weaving them themselves.
The forum concluded with a musical evening featuring Paul Pike playing a blend of original and traditional music. Paul also shared his own journey and how important music and culture are in his life.