Sharing thoughts, ideas, and news on sustainable Indigenous tourism

An Interview with Dr. Kelly-Whitney Squire

1. Tell us your story. How did you become involved with your organization? What does your organization do and why is it important to indigenous tourism?

I became involved with the Council of the Haida Nation’s Tourism Committee as a result of my work exploring the use of Indigenous community-based tourism to support the development and vitalization of local languages. The mandate of the CHC Tourism Committee is the development of a destination management program. Currently, they are involved in developing policy, responding to inquiries from the public, and organization tourism forums annually to support planned development.

2. Why do you think sustainable Indigenous tourism is important? 

Sustainable indigenous tourism is important as it seeks to put in place a framework to provide options around economic diversification and the protection of at risk cultures: language, traditions, practices et cetera to meet the goals and aspirations of the community.

3. How would define sustainable Indigenous tourism?

Think first – develop slowly.

4. Can you provide examples of current innovative initiatives in sustainable indigenous tourism?

The CHN Tourism Committee will hold its 4th Open Forum on Tourism Opportunities on April 1st. The purpose of this forum is to gain input from Haida tourism entrepreneurs, businesses, and associations on issues affecting development. Attendees will look at issues affecting economic development, significant attractions, new and existing initiatives, Gwaii Haanas, Haida Watchmen Program, and Protected Areas Management.

5. What is your current role/project/research focus?

I wear a number of hats in terms of tourism development on Haida Gwaii. I recently completed a Marketing Roadmap for the Haida Heritage Centre and Haida Gwaii Museum, sit as the Consultant Advisor on the CHN Tourism Committee and the Culture and Language Committee. I am also involved in plans to develop an island’s wide destination management plan in conjunction with the CHN, Misty Islands Economic Development Society, and Destination BC.

6. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone about sustainable indigenous tourism development?

The community must be in control of the development, implementation, and maintenance of any tourism initiatives. Non-community expertise can be used at points, but a clear exit strategy and succession planning should be part of the planning process.

7. What do would you like to see in the future for the case of Canadian Indigenous tourism?

I would like to see greater capacity building put in place to support development. Currently, this is the single biggest obstacle/barrier to sustainable Indigenous tourism development on Haida Gwaii. In the absence of greater capacity building many promising projects will not be economically viable in the long run.  

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