ANDECK OMNI KANING FIRST NATION — On January 17, Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) provided an all-inclusive trip with 50 First Nations youth and their parents to Toronto to experience a full circle Indigenous tourism experience.
The weekend included supporting the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies Indigenous Celebration games.
Guided by our four pillars cited as “Cultural Authenticity, Workforce Development, Marketing & Branding, and Product Development”, the experience allowed ITO to reach grassroots families and engage in necessary conversations about the Indigenous tourism industry, prioritizing how Indigenous youth play a vital role in the future of Indigenous tourism.
The weekend began with a trip to the Ontario Science Center’s Indigenous Ingenuity exhibit, an innovative exhibit that ITO proudly supports. It also included an opportunity to view the Regalia exhibit.
Programs like the Indigenous Ingenuity exhibit allow ITO to engage our cultural authenticity and product development pillars by showcasing the crucial contributions, innovations, and methods that Indigenous peoples have created and shared with the world.
The trip continued with an afternoon of workforce development workshops led by ITO’s Indigenous Business Advisors where attendees experienced a pilot workshop program that aims at promoting careers in tourism to Indigenous youth through Service Excellence, Leading for Excellence, Business Builders PATHS Development, cultural revitalization, and culture sharing. The day concluded with a special evening with the Toronto Maple Leafs at their Indigenous Celebration Game.
ITO is pleased to have brought 50 First Nation youth and their parents to the game and the opportunity to collaborate with Hockey Equality, the Native Canadian Center of Toronto, and other special guests to make the Indigenous Celebration evening possible.
The Leafs won the game, but the real win was the Indigenous representation that made the game possible: Tyler Tabobondung Rushnell of Wasauksing First Nations’ incredible Indigenous logo displayed on warmup jerseys, Crystal Kimewon of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and her team of 5 beaders who created Maple Leaf team medallions. Toronto Council Fire’s All Nation junior drum group, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory’s Lisa Odjig world champion hoop performance, Fawn Big Canoe of Chippewa of Georgina Island DJ-ing for the evening, and Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin and Treeteas Brewing for providing delicious Indigenous culinary to fans, and the Weekend in Tkaronto attendees throughout the day.
The weekend concluded with ITO attending the Toronto Marlies Indigenous Celebration Game where ITO was delighted to support the Little Native Hockey League, Hockey Equality, and the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.
The weekend was an overall win for diversity, equity, and inclusion in professional sports. ITO applauds the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies commitment to supporting and recognizing the important contributions of Indigenous culture to hockey in Canada. We are eager for more professional sports teams to not only dedicate an evening to celebrate the Indigenous peoples of Canada, but to instill the spirit of inclusion within their policies.
“We are extremely pleased to grow the Indigenous tourism industry, the ITO family, and collaborate with some pretty amazing people and organizations,” said Kevin Eshkawkogan, President and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario in a press release.
Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) is a provincial non-profit and membership association which focuses on creating aligning and forming partnerships between businesses, associations, organizations, government departments, and industry leaders from across Ontario and Canada to support the growth of Indigenous tourism in Ontario and Canada while addressing the demand for development and marketing of authentic Indigenous experiences. ITO has an established membership process that enables Indigenous tourism industry partners to engage with and show support for Indigenous tourism.