Shuswap Tourism Co-ordinator Frank Antoine hugs a bear, something he says symbolizes the importance Indigenous people place on the world’s animals. Unlike most Western thinking, which puts humans at the top of the chain of importance, the Indigenous viewpoint values land first, animals second and humans in the last position. (Photo contributed)

Shuswap Indigenous tourism strategy begins with consultation

Elders, trainers and general Indigenous community being approached for approval and ideas

Frank Antoine is no stranger to tourism promotion.

As chair of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and with 12 years of experience at Quaaout Lodge, Antoine is well-suited to his new role as co-ordinator of the Shuswap Indigenous Tourism Strategy. He is also on the Splatsin Economic Development Board, is a member of the Adams River Salmon Society and in his entrepreneurial life has his own company, Moccasin Trails.

A member of the Shuswap Nation who calls Bonaparte near Ashcroft home, Antoine says TOTA is well aware of the increased interest in Indigenous tourism, referring to it as “biosphere.”

Biosphere is a responsible tourism system (RTS) certified by the Responsible Tourism Institute, an international accreditation body that maintains a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is affiliated to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), and is a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

“It’s a new word for what we (Indigenous people) have practised for generations,” Antoine says, noting humans are not at the top of this model. “It’s not just about the environment, but also care for the animals and land; the land, the animals and the people, that’s the chain of how we survived.”

Antoine says Indigenous communities are now starting to see how they can benefit from tourism, particularly since culture itself forms the lifestyle.

Related: Shuswap trails excel with group guidance

“They don’t have to follow certain rules on how they present their culture to the public as it is basically their traditional teachings,” he emphasizes. “What tourism or business calls a product, in traditional culture, it’s a place.”

This concept of tourism changes the mindset of the elders and leaders, Antoine says, noting education is key.

“World visitors and local community members want to learn about it and we share who we are,” he says, noting for Indigenous people, the new tourism offers an awakening. “It’s getting our voice back following the history our generations before us endured, and we’re now starting to have a voice and showing our ways in our traditional territories. We’re slowly trying to get back to the ways our people shared.”

Antoine says he is currently working with Neskonlith, Adams Lake and Splatsin bands and is hopeful Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band will come on board to develop a tourism strategy. That band will form the basis of a case study because of its success in providing Indigenous cultural tourism over the past 25 years – including the highly successful Quaaout Lodge.

He will start the process by reaching out to elders and leaders of each of the bands to find out how they would like their community to be represented before sharing with the broader Indigenous communities.

“I want to listen, but then let’s fast track this,” he says.

Related: B.C’s Indigenous tourism takes centre stage in Chilliwack

Antoine says the initiative will include entrepreneur and tourism and industry training, artisan inventory and marketing, increased cultural presence, development of a committee to develop more indigenous events and creation of protocols that work for the Indigenous community.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Resource Operations and Rural Development has provided $94,670 from the Rural Dividend Program to Community Futures of the Shuswap, who will oversee the two-year project. Community Futures, Shuswap Tourism and the Splatsin, Adams Lake and Neskonlith bands have also contributed to the initiative as have others.

“The stakeholders contributed $24,500 in cash and in-kind contributions for the project,” says Rob Marshall, executive director of Community Futures of the Shuswap, noting the funds cover the costs of all the pieces required to build a strategic plan. “Frank is very well-known in the First Nations community, has a solid reputation and is highly regarded in the Shuswap.”


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Salmon Arm RCMP want your help locating missing bike

Green and white ‘Masi’ road bike stolen April 20, another $6,000 bicycle recovered

Salmon Arm RCMP remind public to lock up valuables

Police say most theft from vehicle complaints involve cars left unlocked overnight

Police arrest suspect in Buckerfield’s purse theft

Salmon Arm RCMP say thief used stolen credit cards at local businesses

Snare ban sought for city after death of beloved dog

Salmon Arm men to present signed petitions to city council

SPCA investigating hen cull at Salmon Arm egg farm

Egg farm regulator says they are confident cull was done properly

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

A Kelowna woman that’s more than her rap sheet

Victimized by systems suppose to help, a woman tries to fix her life

Plugged in: Kelowna teen thriving with professional eSports U.S. team

Russel Van Dulken turned his love and skills of gaming into a career

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

SPCA investigating after newborn kittens found in Vancouver dumpster

The kittens were found suffering from hypothermia and dehydration

Ministry announces highway road work planned for this spring

Drivers should expect delays to last into the summer

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Most Read