Kahkiyaw kita ahtamskatinawaw,
Since November, I, along with our Community Development Officer Jasna Eyahpaise, have been working on a major tourism project for our community.
What began in earnest as an aspirational, office discussion between Councillor Petit (at that time) and I a few years ago, has now turned into one of the largest prospective opportunities for our Nation and our people.
Before I begin, I would like to invite you to attend the “Spotlight on Tourism” information session being held on September 12th at the Veterans Hall beginning at 5pm. Here, you will have the opportunity to engage me directly on the full scope of the project and our progress to date. Please join me!Next, I would like to provide you with an overview of our project and some significant milestones since we began this important community-building work.
As part of the Community Development Plan ratified by Council in November, 2017, the development of a local Tourism market was identified as a priority area for our community.
Taking the direction identified by the community, we began the work of identifying some of the more realistic opportunities that tourism presented in the area. We quickly realized that this work required a more specialized set of skills.
Regional Tourism Strategy
Our Community Development department worked to identify additional funding through Indigenous Services Canada, and we were successful in securing the funds needed.
In January of 2018, Urban Systems was hired to develop the Regional Tourism Strategy. This document was prepared by Urban Systems with support from Glyph Creative – a Tourism Consulting company based out of Saskatoon; and ratified with the full support of Council on June 13.
The Regional Tourism Strategy identifies several key areas of tourism opportunity for the Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation to utilize the talents of community members who can tell stories through art and theatre, specifically:
- Telling our story as it relates to Treaty 6 and the national and historic significance this plays in a modern context;
- Telling our story as it relates to the Riel Resistance and the Battle at Duck Lake;
- Telling our story as it relates to Indian Residential Schools;
- Capitalizing on the tourism-related infrastructure locally; and
- Developing export-ready programming, attractions, and content for domestic and international tourism markets.
Have a look at the Regional Tourism Strategy and see in detail where we are going!
After Council ratified the plan, we also continued some important work on identifying additional stakeholders and potential partners in the local area.
We had already had some very important initial conversations with key stakeholders: the Town of Duck Lake, the Regional Interpretive Centre, Parks Canada, the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan, Parks Saskatchewan, Tourism Saskatchewan, Fort Carlton Provincial Park, and others.
We recognized early on that there posed additional opportunities if we partnered with some already-established tourism organizations.
On June 13, Council authorized me to enter the Nation into a Memorandum of Understanding with 3 key Tourism partners.
On July 5th, I hosted a partnership meeting with potential funders, government agencies, and community organizations to discuss our project. More than 50 people attended representing organizations from across Saskatchewan who were interested in our project.
On July 31st, adhering to the provisions contained in the Procurement Policy, we hired Glyph Creative to provide subject matter expertise as our Tourism Consultant.
On August 7, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Whitecap Dakota Nation, and the Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation formalized our partnership and signed an MOU to create the first-ever Indigenous Tourism Corridor in Saskatchewan – and maybe even in Canada; and work in partnership to develop an Indigenous tourism market that would be the envy of the world and bring international tourists to our territories to share the story of our history and our people.
On August 9th, the partnership submitted an application to Western Diversification Canada to fund $1.2M worth of Indigenous Tourism projects between the 3 partners. A formal announcement is forthcoming in October.
On August 10th, I met with regional representatives from Parks Saskatchewan to begin the process to formalize a partnership with Fort Carlton Provincial Park. Our tourism plans are contingent upon our ability to secure a commercial leasing agreement with Parks Saskatchewan for the use and lease of land at the Fort. Their enthusiastic commitment to our project and strong desire to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding left me feeling tremendously excited about our prospects.
Over the next few weeks, our Tourism Consultant – Glyph Creative, will continue the work of Funding Development for the continued implementation of our Regional Tourism Strategy.
Beginning this fall we will coordinate the delivery of training opportunities to the community for the tourism and hospitality sector. This training will focus on accredited programs delivered in partnership with Tourism Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council. Tourism Saskatchewan has agreed to provide this training in support of the Indigenous Tourism Corridor project as an in-kind service at no cost to the Nation or community members.
On October 29th through till the 31st, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada will host its International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Saskatoon.
We have submitted an application to speak about our project and have already received confirmations for our sponsorship and attendance. It is my hope that the Indigenous Tourism Corridor partnership will be in a position to announce our agreement, and hopefully announce a major funding agreement with Western Diversification Canada. It is also my hope – at the same time as the International Conference – to sign and announce a MOU with Parks Saskatchewan regarding the commercial lease of land at Fort Carlton.
I will be happy to provide you with a much more detailed report on how our members can benefit from the opportunities that a tourism industry/sector can bring to our people and local entrepreneurs and artists. Please join me on September 12th at our “Spotlight on Tourism” community information session at the Veterans Hall beginning at 5pm.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at the Band Office at your earliest convenience.
Councillor D. Kevin Seesequasis
Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation