Embracing Indigenous Inclusion: A Journey Towards Authentic Destination Experiences & Truth-Telling
Tourism is a potent vessel for connection, a connection that establishes kinship. Regrettably, this sense of kinship has been historically eroded by colonialism and its practices. Now, through business events, sporting events, cultural events, and leisure travel, we possess the power to mend these rifts, to craft the connections that should have always existed. Our pledge at Discover Saskatoon is to illuminate the land's narrative through the stories, traditions, and cultures of its Indigenous inhabitants.
Prioritizing Indigenous perspectives is not just a nod to ethics; it's an acknowledgment of the vital necessity for authentic representation. Indigenous communities are the bearers of traditions, ways of knowing, and relation to the land that has moulded our region since time immemorial. By ensuring the presence of their voice, we enrich the travel experience, ensure cultural perpetuation, and offer Indigenous communities the platform to pass down their irreplaceable legacies.
We're deeply inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #92. This directive spotlights the creation of economic avenues for Indigenous communities, understanding that financial empowerment plays a pivotal role in righting historical wrongs. We, in Destination Management and Marketing, are unwavering in our commitment to stimulate Indigenous entrepreneurship and bolster their communities' economic vitality.
It is pivotal to confront the persistent specters of stereotypes and misconceptions head-on. These moments of friction underline the transformative impact of Indigenous tourism experiences. These engagements dispel myths, remind us of our shared human essence, and emphasize our world's profound interconnectedness. We learn that embracing diversity banishes prejudice, fostering an environment of learning, dialogue, and unity.
The heartbeats of Saskatchewan reverberate with the rich narratives of Indigenous history and culture. My role as CEO of Discover Saskatoon has allowed me to be a privileged witness to the tapestry of experiences that underscore this legacy. From the enchanting Han Wi Moon Dinners at Wanuskewin Heritage Park to the captivating Grand Entry at the Canadian Curling Trials in partnership with The Saskatoon Tribal Council, and the mesmerizing starry escapades at Dakota Dunes Resort, each event is a tribute to the resilience, strength, and unity of Indigenous communities.
These moments aren't just fleeting encounters; they're profound lessons in endurance and connection. Collaborating with esteemed partners like the Saskatoon Tribal Council, Metis Nation, Dakota Dunes Resort, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park, we're not just establishing partnerships but nurturing lasting bonds that go beyond transactional interactions. Our united vision celebrates the spirit of Indigenous communities and emphasizes their rightful place in our shared journey.
We stand at the precipice of change. For genuine representation, it is imperative to forge collaborations with Indigenous tourism entities, communities and individuals. This collective endeavor will birth experiences, products, and tales that resonate with the heartbeats of Indigenous communities and captivate global audiences.
Our journey toward reconciliation begins with acknowledging the truth. Guided by our unwavering dedication to authentic representation, economic reconciliation, and cultural preservation, we believe that the true essence of a destination is encapsulated in the narratives it holds. As we evolve our Destination Management and Marketing practices, our goal is to craft experiences infused with inclusivity, vibrancy, and a rich tapestry of cultures. I warmly invite you to immerse yourself in the Indigenous experiences of this destination, to listen, learn, and be moved by their profound stories. By engaging firsthand, you too can be a catalyst for change, and together, we can pave a path of understanding and shared growth.