Indigenous tourism biz gets new investments in Canada’s Northwest Territories

Deline, a community in the Northwest Territories. New investments in marketing and workshops aim to to help cultivate tourism in communities like this one. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
A new agreement has been signed in Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT)  to up annual investment in Indigenous tourism businesses.

The memorandum of understanding was signed on Tuesday by the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI), the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), and Northwest Territories Tourism (NWTT).

The new investments will be as much as $257,000 annually.

“The connection that the tourism industry has to Indigenous communities is important because of the economic opportunities it provides,” said Cathie Bolstad, the chief executive officer of Northwest Territories Tourism, a non-profit industry association with around 160 members.

“(…) This partnership is aimed at growing tourism product in the NWT and strengthening territorial and national marketing of the unique indigenous cultures and experiences in the NWT,” Bolstad said in a news release on Wednesday.

Marketing, training and workshops

The majority of the 2018-2019 funding will be directed towards workshops and marketing.

The community of LutselK’e in the southeastern part of the territory,  will work on testing visitor packages and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation will work on completing their craft store and visitor centre.

Elsewhere in NWT, they’ll be workshops on Indigenous tourism development and photo and video shoots to create marking materials for Indigenous tourism operators.

“The rich Indigenous cultures in the Northwest Territories is something that sets us apart from other travel destinations and creates unforgettable experiences for our guests,” said Wally Schumann, NWT’s minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.  “It is vital to the preservation of culture and heritage and is an intrinsic part of growing the Northwest Territories’ tourism industry. This partnership will help us to better achieve the vision of strengthening Indigenous cultural tourism that is set out in Tourism 2020.”

Community development

There are few job opportunities in many of Canada’s northern Indigenous communities because of their small populations and remote locations.

Tourism is often seen as an industry that creates jobs for a variety of education levels, promotes small-scale entrepreneurship, reinforces and promotes local cultures, and creates the sustainable development.

Keith Henry, the president & CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, which works to cultivate tourism as a way to improve the economic health of Aboriginal communities says the agreement is an important step for the territory.

“This agreement demonstrates how great partnerships can advance Indigenous tourism across Canada, from territorial governments to our national priorities,” he said in the news release.  “I am excited for the future of Indigenous tourism in the Northwest Territories.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Drivers flock to Northern Canada’s new highway to Arctic Ocean, CBC News

Finland: In Santa’s hometown, are tourism and a railway threatening Sámi culture?, Cryopolitics Blog

Iceland: Arctic tourism in the age of Instagram, Eye on the Arctic special report

Norway: Polar bear shot dead after attacking person on Svalbard, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: World’s first round-the-Arctic luxury cruise could set sail in 2020, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Growing number of Swedes choose train travel over flying to reduce pollution, Radio Sweden

United States: Arctic flights save time, but fuel climate change, Cryopolitics Blog

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *