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Explore Canada’s Iconic National Parks Through an Indigenous Lens

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Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) / Warrior Women, Jasper, Alberta

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is inviting travellers to visit Indigenous communities, nations, and experiences across the country and to visit Canada’s iconic national parks, viewing them through an Indigenous lens.

Parks Canada and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada have a four-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) which recognizes the role that Indigenous Peoples have in protecting the historic sites, national parks, and marine conservation areas, and it encourages the sharing of stories that inhabit these treasured places.

“We are so fortunate to live in a vast and ecologically diverse country,” said Keith Henry, ITAC President and CEO. “Our protected parklands hold a millennia of Indigenous history, waiting to be told.”

Canada’s well-known parks saw 25 million visitors per year prior to the pandemic. Below are some of the many places where visitors can take Indigenous-led tours to understand the significance they hold through Indigenous perspectives.

Some examples of Indigenous experiences include:

Western Canada

Banff National Park is Canada’s most visited national park known for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Mahikan Trails offers guided tours such as a medicine walk where guides identify flora and fauna and their healing properties. Learn how to mountain hike with Indigenous-owned Girth Hitch Guiding where climbers can also become educated on the captivating history of the Cascade Ponds.

Located three hours north-west of Banff is Jasper, Alberta, where you might encounter the Warrior Women, a duo offering performance shows, workshops, tour shows, guided experiences, training and much more. Jasper Tour Company is an Indigenous-led tour company run by Joe and Patti Urie. Joe himself takes guests along a number of tours, offering his lived experience as a Métis person.

Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) / Metis Crossing, Smoky Lake, Alberta

Ontario

Ontario is known as the most densely populated province in Canada, and large cities like Toronto and Ottawa often receive the most tourism. But venture outside of the city limits and travellers can find bountiful untouched land and beautiful sceneries. In Tobermory, Ontario is the Bruce Peninsula National Park, which is known for its beautiful limescale cliffs, caves, and waterfront. Also located there, Cape Croker Park is both a campground and a provider of Indigenous cultural experiences that educate travellers on the rich history of the Anishinaabe People. The Anishinaabe People existed in this area before it was known as Bruce Peninsula. Today, visitors can hear stories that have been passed down through generations.

Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) / Point Grondine Park – Killarney, Ontario

Quebec

Forillon National Park was the first national park in Quebec. It’s best known for the region’s colourful underwater plants and wildlife, including its colonies of birds, whales and seals. Gesgapegiag is one of three First Nations communities on the South Shore of the Gaspésie, most of whom are of Mi’kmaq ancestry. Explore Gesgapegiag with Tourisme Gesgapegiag. The Mawiomi grounds are often home to cultural events and Micmac art. After a day of shopping and exploring, sample some freshly caught jagej (lobster) in the newly expanded Gesgapegiag Lobster Hut.

Only a short, five-minute drive from Forillon National Park is Gaspé, home to the Gespeg Interpretation Site. The history of this community began in the 16th century when the Gespeg Mi’gmac settled in Gaspé Bay, getting its name from the Mi’gmac word “gespeg,” which translates to “where the earth ends.” Live the Mi’gmac experience by getting in touch with the Interpretation Site and making a reservation.

Croisières Essipit – Essipit, Québec — Essipit Cruises, Essipit Quebec

The Maritimes

Another popular destination in Canada is Gros Morne National Park, located in Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland. Tourists flock to this site to observe the gorgeous red landscape, caused by tectonic shifts and exposure of the earth’s mantle. Visitors to this area are fortunate to have three tour companies available to teach them about the first people that lived there: Wild Gros Morne, Gros Morne Adventures and Under the Stump. Travel back in time at Gros Morne to truly understand how the first people in Canada thrived in the northernmost province.

Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) / Nunatsiavut Government, Happy Valley Goose Bay, Newfoundland & Labrador

Northern Canada

Kluane National Park and Reserve, located in Canada’s Yukon territory, ​​is part of the traditional territory of the Southern Tutchone people. For thousands of years, this land has been home to Indigenous people who hunted and gathered for sustenance. Now, Shakat Tun Wilderness Camp is the window into the Indigenous peoples that have thrived here. Getting its name from the Southern Tutchone language, “Shakat tun” means summer hunting trails. See the Canadian northwest like never before with this organization’s tailored two-night stay or larger group stays.

To learn more about Indigenous tourism, visit DestinationIndigenous.ca.

Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) / Carcross/Tagish Management Corporation – Carcross, Yukon

About the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is a national non-profit Indigenous tourism industry organization established in 2015. ITAC is the lead organization tasked with growing and promoting the Indigenous tourism industry across the country. Inspired by a vision for a thriving Indigenous tourism economy sharing authentic, memorable and enriching experiences, ITAC develops relationships with groups and regions with similar mandates to enable collective support, product development, promotion and marketing of authentic Indigenous tourism businesses in a respectful protocol.

Contributing members are responsible for the accuracy of content contributed to the Member News section of AdventureTravelNews.

1 Comment to Explore Canada’s Iconic National Parks Through an Indigenous Lens

  1. What a nice way to offer a fresh perspective to destinations that were already known in that country. Best of all, it is something that can be reproduced by travel companies from other countries.

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