As we observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we’re taking a look at the ways we can support Indigenous-led and owned businesses.
Indigenous Peoples have called the lands we live on home for millennia, and it’s time for us to learn about the beauty of nature, shared traditions, and hospitality directly from Indigenous communities here in Canada. It’s time to redefine what travel means to us.
Each one of us can be a better ally by supporting Indigenous tourism, embarking on tours and experiences led by Indigenous Peoples, and gaining a greater understanding of and appreciation for the diverse Indigenous cultures in Canada. That being said, here are nine authentic Indigenous experiences to try this fall.
Talaysay Tours operates land and ocean-based tours in Vancouver year-round, allowing locals and tourists to learn about the cultural significance of the city’s ancient rainforest of Stanley Park. During a Talking Trees Tour, an Indigenous guide and cultural ambassador will share insights on their worldview and how the land, forest, and ocean were managed by Indigenous Peoples. Attendees can expect to leave the tour feeling more connected to the earth and with the ability to recognize plants that were harvested by Coast Salish people.
Get a glimpse of what it was like to paddle in a First Nations canoe by joining one of the Takaya Tours departing from Vancouver. In a 10-metre replica of an ocean-ready canoe, you and your group will travel into the North Shore’s Indian Arm, listening to stories of legends and myths and singing traditional Coast Salish songs along the way. You’ll also make a stop at a remote beach during this wilderness adventure to enjoy a delicious picnic of baked salmon with bannock and wild rice.
Out east, let Six Nations Tourism take you through the rich history at Kana:ta Village, dating back to a period before contact with settlers. You’ll board a watercraft on the Grand River and learn about the importance of all life to the Six Nations, their Creation story, and the traditional games played by the Haudenosaunee. The Grand River (one of Canada’s heritage rivers, synonymous with the Six Nations’ rich history) is located in one of the last remaining Carolinian forests.
In Ontario, Wiikwemkoong is home to the people of the Three Fires Confederacy: an alliance of the Ojibwa, Odawa, and Pottawatomi Nations. Here, you can join Wikwemikong Tourism in celebrating community and reconnecting with the land on a guided hike along the Bebamikawe Memorial Hiking Trail. Not only will you learn about the practical and medicinal uses of plants along the trail from your guide, you’ll also sample teas, be captivated by storytelling, and hear about battles with the Iroquois People.
The Atikamekw community of Manawan in Quebec is home to just 2,600 residents. And every day of the year, Tourisme Manawan runs a four-hour guided walking tour to help visitors gain an insight into the culture, crafts, and traditions within a Native Reserve today. The tour will take you to stops including the community radio station, the grocery store, the workshops of local craftsmen, the local schools, the Band Council, the Atikamekw police station, and the local church.
In the First Nations reserve of the Kahnawà:ke, visitors can begin their journey of discovering Mohawk culture at the Welcome Centre. A local guide will give you a free map and inform you of any events happening and the places to check out. As you tour the town on foot, you can take in the sights along the marina, support local shops and restaurants, and visit the Kanien’kehà:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitiohkwa Language and Cultural Center and local library to enrich your learning experience.
Did you know that Métis families formed a community along Alberta’s first road, the Victoria Trail? During a Meet the Métis experience at Métis Crossing along the North Saskatchewan River, visitors can learn about the seasonal practices that are a part of the culture and tradition, including jig demonstrations, fiddle playing, storytelling, arts and crafts, and the history behind these practices. Please note, the Métis Crossing cultural heritage centre is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
Anyone interested in food experiences that tell a story will be in for a treat with Pei Pei Chei Ow. The Edmonton-based catering company incorporates traditional and western ingredients to create incredibly tasty dishes using Indigenous cooking techniques. The Indigenous fare prepared by the company is inspired by the land, life, and seasons and explores the food system along with contemporary culture and the impact of colonialism. The founder of the company, Scott Jonathan Iserhoff, can work with you to create a customized menu for events of any size.
Alberta’s Talking Rock Tours was established to give everyone who participates in its experiences an increased awareness of the region’s earth sciences and local Indigenous knowledge. Among its offerings suitable for small groups is an adventurous Elk Island Discovery Tour, which takes you past rolling hills, terraced beaver dams, and more while a guide talks you through the natural and cultural components at each wondrous stop.
To find even more authentic Indigenous experiences and packages within Canada, visit destinationindigenous.ca. You can also support Indigenous artists and craftspeople by shopping for Indigenous-made artworks and collectables at buyauthentic.ca.