DREAMSCAPES SPRIG/SUMMER 2022
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TRAVEL SLEUTH - INDIGENOUS CANADA SUMMER TRAVEL GUIDE
 
(2022 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: DIANE SELKIRK, NATALIE PREDDIE AND CAROLYN HELLER



More than ever, we’re seeking something different from our travels. Checking “top 10s” off a bucket list has given way to the desire to travel more sustainably while building deeper connections with people, places and cultures.

In many ways you could say Indigenous tourism is ahead of this trend. While many of us think of Indigenous tourism as something that’s focused on the past, like visiting a museum or re-enactment village, contemporary Indigenous-led tourism is actually quite modern. It’s a form of connection that gives us the opportunity to get to know the Indigenous stewards of the land we share. It’s also been called an act of reconciliation—because when we share laughter and learning, it breaks down barriers and increases understanding.

Connecting With the Land

As one of the fastest growing forms of tourism in Canada, Indigenous tourism offers visitors insight into how Indigenous nations lived sustainably from time immemorial.

In Saskatchewan, as Wanuskewin Heritage Park Elder Cy Standing explains, just because the history books were written after contact it doesn’t mean there weren’t records left. A park visit will introduce you to four newly discovered petroglyphs, which have joined the park’s other cultural artifacts, to tell a story that’s interpreted by the plains people themselves.

Over in Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, disconnect and explore the boreal forest with a Cree/Métis guide from Aski Holistic Adventures. You’ll paddle a canoe or perhaps gather traditional medicines while learning how to feel more comfortable in the wild. wanuskewin.com; askiholisticadventures.com

Protecting Our Future

In British Columbia, the 26 First Nations that share the territory of Great Bear Rainforest (GBR), who were instrumental in conserving the region 20 years ago, are now leaders in local tourism. Guides at Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours will share their connection to the planet—making it more than a sightseeing trip.

Near Klemtu, spend overnight at Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation’s Spirit Bear Lodge, a remote ecolodge. Learn about culture and the spectacular Kermode, or spirit bear. Gain a deeper appreciation of conservation efforts to ensure the GBR people can continue to thrive for future generations. A stay at Haida Gwaii’s Ocean House will help you absorb the Haida teaching: Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid—“everything depends on everything else.” As you explore pristine beaches, old-growth forests and ancient villages this philosophy will show you that we don’t just belong in nature, we’re part of it. homalcotours.com; spiritbear.com; haidatourism.ca/ocean-house

MÃdahòkì Farms, Ottawa, Ontario

In English, Mãdahòkì translates to “Share the land,” the perfect epithet for this new Indigenous destination and gathering space. Cradled in Ottawa’s greenbelt on unceded territory, the working farm focuses on wellness and healing, while providing social enterprise for Indigenous people. Embracing the agritourism trend, Mãdahòkì Farms offers traditional farm-to-table culinary experiences and diverse cultural immersions.

Every June, Mãdahòkì Farms hosts Summer Solstice, an action-packed festival culminating in a colossal celebration on the 21st day. Local artists hold artistic creative workshops, guiding guests through Indigenous stories while making drums, SkyWoman stencils and sealskin keychains. Dancers from all over North America arrive for the annual Pow Wow. indigenous-experiences.ca/madahoki-farm/

Wiikwemikoong Territory, Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Wiikwemikoong Territory, in the islands of Lake Huron, is also unceded territory, occupied by the Three Fires Confederacy. As Manitoulin Island’s largest First Nations community, Wiikwemikoong offers a variety of eco-adventures, as well as cultural interpretation tours. Paddle through serene water trails and past enchanting waterfalls, before spending a night under the stars in the beautiful backcountries on the mainland of Point Grondine Park. Travellers can experience a traditional Three Fires Confederacy Pow Wow, a celebration of community spirit through song, dance and cultural foods. wiikwemkoong.ca/tourism

Baffin Island, Nunavut

In the northwest corner of Baffin Bay lies the wildly stark terrain of Arctic Bay, home to Canada’s Inuit Peoples for nearly 5,000 years. Dramatic geological formations and fjords make this one of the most unique polar destinations in the world. Arctic Bay Adventures is part of the Inuit-owned and -operated community, offering excursions that combine the Arctic’s spectacular scenery, its wondrous wildlife and distinctive culture. Arcticbayadventures.com

Hall Beach, Melville Peninsula

Hall Beach, or Sanirajak in Inuktitut, translates to “The Shoreline” or “One that is along the coast.” The oldest known permanently inhabited community existing north of the Arctic Circle, Hall Beach is home to 891 residents. Travellers can encounter majestic Arctic marine life in their natural habitat, explore nearby Thule archaeological sites, and discover authentic Inuit traditions, all amidst a crisp, sparkling Arctic paradise.

Quebec

Road trip along the forested highways north and west of Québec City to learn about the Indigenous nations who have inhabited this region for centuries. Among the lakes and woodlands, Indigenous communities are welcoming visitors who want to experience their cultures.

Wendake

On the Huron-Wendat reserve in Wendake, Quebec, Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations is both an Indigenous cultural centre and 55-room boutique lodging. View multimedia exhibits in the Huron-Wendat Museum, listen to Indigenous legends around the campfire inside the Ekionkiestha’ National Longhouse, or visit during a Pow Wow for dancing, drumming, and vibrant regalia. hotelpremieres-nations.ca/en; museehuronwendat.ca

Along Lac Saint-Jean

In the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, you can learn about the Pekuakamiulnuatsh First Nation through the exhibits at the modern Musée Amérindien de Mashteuiatsh outside the town of Roberval. Nearby, sleep by the lake at Indigenous-owned Camping Plage Robertson, which has 150 campsites and a sandy waterfront beach. museeilnu.ca; campingquebec.com

For a more in-depth Indigenous experience, book a stay in a teepee, cabin or longhouse at Aventure Plume Blanche. Start with an overview of Pekuakamiulnuatsh culture, learn a craft, and sample fish, goose or other local foods. aventureplumeblanche.com

Eeyou Istchee Baie-James

Much of this region’s Indigenous population is of Cree heritage, so begin your visit at the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute in the Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou. Inside this modern blond-wood structure constructed to recall a shaputuan, or Cree longhouse, exhibits range from archaeological artifacts and historic tools to contemporary local art. Listen to audio recordings of elders sharing their experiences or learn about Cree cultural practices. Have a meal or stay the night at Capissisit Lodge, a 20-room inn overlooking Lake Opemiska. creeculturalinstitute.ca; ouje.ca/capissisit-lodge

Managed by the Cree-run Nibiischii Corporation, Quebec’s largest wildlife sanctuary, the Lakes Albanel-Mistassini-et-Waconichi Wildlife Reserve encompasses the province’s biggest natural freshwater lake and immense expanses of boreal forest. At one of the reserve’s more accessible areas, outside the town of Chibougamau, you can fish for trout on Lake Waconichi or overnight in a floating cabin on Cliff Bay. nibiischii.com

 
 
 
 
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