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 10 years later, Indigenous tourism still reaps the benefits of the 2010 Olympics

10 years later, Indigenous tourism still reaps the benefits of the 2010 Olympics

2020-02-24 | Source: CBC News | By: Maryse Zeidler, CBC News

Photo Caption: Candace Campo runs Talaysay Tours, which offers interpretive walks through Vancouver's Stanley Park. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Steam comes off Lost Lagoon as the morning sun wakes Stanley Park from its cold winter slumber.

Along the path that circles the water, tour operator Candace Campo stands beside the sacred tree of her Squamish people.

"The cedar tree has an oil that is mould resistant, bug resistant," Campo explains, her voice steady and soft. "So we were able to make clothing that was rain resistant. We refer to it as our Gortex back in the day."

This is the type of history that Campo, owner and operator of Talaysay Tours, typically shares with tourists from around the world during her Talking Trees tours.

Watch Campo explain the significance of some of the vegetation in Stanley Park:

Business has grown steadily for years, Campo says. But it was leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games that she really started to notice a rise in demand.

"The promotion of our Indigenous communities for the Olympics was really strong and as a small tour company it really did benefit us," she said.

Keith Henry, president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, says the 2010 Games were "truly life-changing" for many of the association's members — and many of them are still reaping those benefits today.

"It was the biggest single event in Canada's history for our Indigenous tourism sector that put us on the map globally," Henry said, sitting in his office in downtown Vancouver.

Many acknowledge that the Vancouver Olympics were unprecedented in their inclusivity and representation of Indigenous cultures at an Olympic event.

John Furlong, former CEO of VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, says establishing a strong partnership with local First Nations was important to Olympic leaders.

"We did something that was not easy to do but really enhanced the look and feel and made us all feel quite a bit more proud," Furlong said.

One of the key outcomes of VANOC's partnership with the Four Host First Nations — Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — was high visibility.

Indigenous participation was incorporated into the torch relay and opening ceremonies, and was on daily display at the First Nations Pavilion and other programming throughout the Games.

Even Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, leader of the B.C. Union of Indian Chiefs and staunch critic of the Games, admits that 2010 promoted First Nations to the world. 

"I don't think there's any question that the 2010 Olympics showcased the diversity, beauty and strength of Indigenous culture here in B.C.," Phillip said. 

Demand brings challenges

Henry says that representation awakened tourist demand in a way that's never been seen before. But he also admits that spike in demand has come with challenges.

There are also ongoing problems with authenticity and representation, he says. Issues like chintzy made-in-China totem poles were brought to light during the Games, Henry says, but the problem remains today.

"Indigenous artwork, whether it's owned by indigenous people or not, is worth billions of dollars in Canada right now," he said. "And most of it, unfortunately, has zero connection with the local Indigenous community."

The issue of representation extends to tour operators keen to capitalize on demand for Indigenous programming but who don't provide an authentic product.

For example, Henry says, he regularly comes across companies offering trips like teepee tours on the West Coast, even though teepees were mostly used by Indigenous groups from the Plains.

Indigenous tourism providers say they also encounter stereotypes from their customers, some who don't understand that Indigenous cultures aren't stuck in the past.

'It feeds the soul'

Alison Pascal, programmer at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in the Sea-to-Sky region, says people are often shocked to see artisans in the building using power tools.

"They're really shocked to see that we can make use of this modern technology," Pascal said. "They really question whether or not we could still be authentic while we're using power tools."

But many Indigenous tour operators also see those encounters as an opportunity to address misconceptions and share more accurate information.

Campo, a former teacher, says educating her clients also comes with personal benefits for her.

"When you get to share your culture and your history, it's healing," she said. "I talk about my ancestors and I come from an exceptional people, and it just it feeds the soul."

Please checkout this website for further information.

Source: CBC News

 Tewanee Joseph was the executive director of the Four Host First Nations during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Many say the Indigenous participation during the Games was unprecedented. (Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press)
 Keith Henry, president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, says business is booming for most of ITAC's members. (Christian Amundson/CBC)
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 Demand for Indigenous tourism outpacing availability of staff, creation of infrastructure

Demand for Indigenous tourism outpacing availability of staff, creation of infrastructure

2019-10-12 | Source: CBC News | By: Maryse Zeidler, CBC News

Deanna Lewis has worked as a B.C. tourist guide for about 20 years, but never has she seen so much interest from visitors wanting to learn about her Squamish culture. 

Lewis, who is also an elected councillor with the Squamish Nation, works as an operator for Talaysay Tours. She takes tourists on interpretive walks around areas like Alice Lake in her people's territory, teaching them about things like local history and Indigenous use of local flora.

"We're in a really good time today as Indigenous people to be proud we're here," Lewis said. "It's empowering to ourselves and to the communities that we live in."

Keith Henry, president of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, says there has been a surge in demand for Indigenous experiences across the country. 

But Henry says only 133 of Canada's 1,900 Indigenous tourism operators are "export-ready" - meaning they have the expertise, staff and infrastructure to do business on an international scale. 

"It's a really limiting factor," Henry said last week at the World Indigenous Business Forum in Vancouver, which attracted about 500 people from around the world.

Henry says Indigenous tourism in Canada has grown by $300 million from 2014 to 2017 to a total of $1.7 billion, and saw an increase of about 7,000 jobs. While tourism overall grew by 14 per cent, Indigenous tourism grew by 23 per cent. 

Tourism industry research shows that more than one in three visitors to Canada are interested in an authentic Indigenous tourism experience. 

'It can't be Disneyfied'

The industry's main challenge, according to Henry, is building capacity to meet demand.

That includes building better websites, training Indigenous staff and securing investment funding for infrastructure like shuttle buses and buildings. 

Not having enough Indigenous-led companies has, in some cases, led to cultural appropriation and misrepresentation when large tour operators try to meet demand without enough Indigenous contribution, Henry says. 

"These experiences need to be telling the truth about culture," he said. "It can't be contrived and it can't be Disneyfied."

Tourists can often sniff out inauthentic experiences, Henry pointed out.

Rebuilding pride

Other Indigenous tourism operators from around the world, who were also at the Vancouver conference, cited similar growth in their countries.

Lewis said one of the biggest factors limiting growth at Talaysay Tours has been finding Indigenous guides who are willing and able to share stories about their culture. 

The legacy of residential schools means previous generations have been hesitant about doing so. 

"Some people wanted to hold that knowledge," Lewis said. "It was taken from them for a very long time. So that trust wasn't there, and that pride wasn't there."

But younger generations are brought up differently, she said, and are encouraged to learn about their customs, history and knowledge. 

Lewis said sharing stories about her culture and the history of residential schools can be empowering and contributes to healing.

"I actually think my guests help me on my journey," she said.

'Scratching the surface'

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada supports businesses with $317,000 in annual capacity-building grants, but last year it got $1.35 million in requests from 138 organizations.   

"We're scratching the surface on the need right now," Henry said. "There's lots of community economic development work that needs to be done."

The association also works with governments and tourism associations to ensure Canada is marketed as more than "moose, beavers and RCMP," Henry said. Including Indigenous narratives in national identity has benefited countries like Australia and New Zealand. 

More investment in Indigenous tourism has been shown to pay off, Henry said. In B.C. and Ontario, provincial investments have created a growing industry that contributes to rising GDP. 

Please checkout this website for further information.

Source: CBC News

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An Authentic First Nations Experience in Vancouver, Canada

2019-01-08 | Source: Travel Pulse | By: Chelsea Davis

PHOTO: Candace Campo of Talaysay Tours. (Photo courtesy of Chelsea Davis)

Few destinations offer as much of an immersive experience into the rich heritage of First Nations culture as does Vancouver, Canada. While Vancouver is well-known for its friendly citizens, diversity, extensive art scene, a variety of restaurants and incredible coastal scenery, which includes lush rainforest and mountainous terrain, it’s also the traditional homeland to the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil Waututh and Coastal Salish peoples.

First Nations culture is interwoven throughout everyday life in Vancouver. From art installations, dual signage and dedicated museums to indigenous cuisine and First Nation-led excursions, this is a city overflowing with special, one-of-a-kind opportunities to learn about the indigenous peoples of the Sunshine Coast.

"Indigenous people, the first hosts of this great city, share culture, history and friendship via walking tours, food, song and dance," explains Candace Campo, member of the Sechelt Nation and owner-operator of Talaysay Tours, a First Nations-owned company that offers authentic Aboriginal cultural and eco-tourism experiences in and around Vancouver.

“Vancouver, the city, is a gathering place for people throughout the world from various cultures. There are 7 distinct Coast Salish indigenous tribes who are the first hosts of this region and practice century-old cultural customs within the guest-host relationship.”

“This long-standing tradition is referred to as taking care of each other's heart. When visitors come to our home, as a people, whether we are Chiefs, guides or community members, we give and share our very best.”

Visitors looking for both luxe accommodations and an authentic experience can book a Talking Trees Package with the Fairmont Waterfront, a certified 5 Green Key and soon-to-be Zero Waste property, which includes a Talking Trees Tour from Talaysay Tours.

During this special tour, you’re accompanied by a local First Nations guide who leads you on a cultural, historic and scientific exploration of the trees and plants of Stanley Park. It’s fascinating to hear first-hand how they—to this day—continue to gather and harvest the very same plants for food and medicine that they have for centuries.

Get ready to be blown away by First Nations’ in-depth knowledge of the nature that surrounds you and delighted by the stories that each tree and plant holds in their culture. And don’t miss out on the towering totem poles scattered throughout the lush park.

In addition to this tour, the Fairmont package features a special indigenous-inspired dinner in ARC, the property’s upscale waterfront restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Anthony Marzo. This special dinner incorporates the foraged local bounty that was learned about on the tour.

Our menu included dishes such as oyster and herring roe with kelp, hemlock and eucalyptus emulsion and elk tartare with elderberries, blackberries, hazelnuts and a bone marrow sabayon.
Before you check out, be sure to stop by the Fairmont’s newest addition to their impressive organic rooftop culinary garden—the West Coast Garden—which was designed in partnership with Campo and Hives for Humanity.

This bountiful garden is overflowing with plants and flowers that provide food for bees and other pollinators. The garden includes the indigenous plants mock orange, salal, snowberry, salmonberry, deer fern, wild strawberry and Solomon’s plume. Much of what grows on the roof finds its way into the cuisine at ARC.

If you’re craving more First Nations flavor, visitors can dine at Salmon n Bannock, Vancouver’s only First Nations restaurant, which specializes in wild fish, game meat, and you guessed it, bannock. From wild sockeye salmon and wild boar to more rarely tasted meats such as sea lion and oolochan fish, Salmon and Bannock uses traditional ingredients and prepares and presents them in a modern way.

For a more casual take on First Nations food, track down the Mr. Bannock Food Truck, Vancouver’s first indigenous food truck. It offers cuisine using ingredients from the Squamish Nation such as juniper berries, smoked wild salmon and meats and prepares it using traditional methods such as clay and stone baking. You can’t go wrong with one of Mr. Bannock’s award-winning Indian tacos topped with venison chili, cheese, salsa and sour cream.

Once you’re full, take a break and explore one of the many museums and art galleries that serve as important vehicles conveying the history, culture, stories and messages of the First Nation to visitors and locals alike.

Explore Vancouver Museum’s Haida Now exhibit which boasts over 450 works of art, some dating back to 1890. Learn about the importance of First Nation stories, how things like jewelry is used to pass on knowledge and ways Haida artists engage with the world through their craft.

Another fascinating body of work to check out? Body Language: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest at the Bill Reid Gallery. This is the first exhibition that fully dives into the world of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment. Learn about the history of these traditional practices and find out how they’re used to tell personal stories, create identity and symbolize protection, healing and more, in the present day.

Please checkout this website for further information.

Source: Travel Pulse

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 Aboriginal Eco Tours Receives Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor

Aboriginal Eco Tours Receives Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor

2018-05-23 | Source: Trip Advisor

TripAdvisor gives a Certificate of Excellence to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travellers. 

Please checkout this website for further information.

Source: Trip Advisor

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