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Canada’s tourism landscape is experiencing a significant transformation with the rise of Indigenous tourism experiences. This burgeoning sector is not only offering travellers unique cultural insights but also supporting the economic resurgence of Indigenous communities post-pandemic.

The Boom in Indigenous Tourism

Before the pandemic, Indigenous tourism was the fastest-growing segment within Canada’s tourism industry, with a reported $1.2 billion contribution to the GDP and supporting 32,000 jobs. However, the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, hitting this sector particularly hard. Despite these setbacks, Indigenous tourism is now rebounding with vigour, fuelled by substantial governmental and organisational support aimed at recovery and growth.

The Government of Canada has been instrumental in this resurgence through initiatives like the Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF). With a $20 million investment, the ITF aims to restore and expand Indigenous tourism offerings. Notable within this initiative is the Signature Indigenous Tourism Experiences Stream (SITES), which supports significant projects that enhance tourism infrastructure and services in Indigenous communities. This program is designed to make Indigenous tourism sites more accessible and appealing to both domestic and international visitors, thus encouraging longer stays and increased spending.

Wanuskewin, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Original Original: A Brand Rooted in Authenticity

One of the most exciting developments in this arena is the emergence of the “Original Original” brand. This brand represents a collective of Indigenous tourism experiences that emphasize authenticity and cultural integrity. Under the guidance of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), the Original Original brand aims to highlight genuine Indigenous experiences that are deeply rooted in the cultural traditions and histories of Indigenous peoples across Canada.
ITAC’s efforts are centred on promoting and marketing these authentic experiences to a global audience. The association’s initiatives, such as the RISE program, provide crucial tools and resources to Indigenous tourism operators. RISE, for instance, offers a toolkit for recovery and resilience, helping businesses navigate the post-pandemic landscape and ensuring they are well-equipped to meet increasing demand.

Unforgettable Experiences Across Canada

Travellers seeking authentic Indigenous experiences can find a wealth of options across Canada. In Saskatchewan, the Dakota Dunes Resort on Whitecap Dakota First Nations land offers a luxurious stay infused with Indigenous heritage. The resort features traditional tipi-inspired design and activities such as golfing, hiking, and canoeing, providing a blend of comfort and cultural immersion).

In Manitoba, Wapusk Adventures in Churchill provides thrilling dog carting experiences guided by Metis owner Dave Daley. This ecotourism venture allows visitors to connect with nature while learning about the region’s Indigenous traditions. Similarly, the Feast Cafe Bistro in Winnipeg, led by Peguis First Nation member Christa, offers modern dishes rooted in traditional First Nations foods, creating a culinary experience that honours Indigenous heritage.

Wapusk Adventures, Churchill, Manitoba

A Sustainable Future

The resurgence of Indigenous tourism in Canada is more than an economic boon; it is a pathway to cultural preservation and education. By engaging with these authentic experiences, travellers contribute to the sustainability and growth of Indigenous communities. The Original Original brand stands as a testament to the resilience and richness of Indigenous cultures, offering travellers a chance to connect deeply with the true essence of Canada.

As Indigenous tourism continues to rise, it offers a unique opportunity for cultural exchange and economic growth. The Original Original brand encapsulates this movement, ensuring that the experiences shared are genuine and impactful, fostering a deeper appreciation for Indigenous cultures across the globe.

Indigenous Tourism Canada

Destination Canada