February 28, 2020, Corner Brook—Yesterday, members of the newly established Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Association (NLITA) shared their story of coming together to form an association that will support Indigenous tourism development in this province. What began as a conversation two years ago during the first province-wide Indigenous Tourism Gathering in Happy Valley-Goose Bay became a reality as the group announced their new Association and 5-year development strategy.
On hand to share in the announcement were Tara Saunders of Qalipu First Nation, Roxanne Notley of NunatuKavut and Jilliam Larkham of Nunatsiavut. Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) representatives President and CEO Keith Henry and Atlantic Coordinator Robert Bernard were also on hand to show their support. The Indigenous-led team will pursue grassroots tourism support, cultural preservation, inclusion, leadership, marketing, product development, education, training and capacity building.
Tara Saunders, who also holds the provincial seat on the ITAC Board of Directors and serves on the Board with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, noted that the five-year strategy was developed with input from many voices heard through an engagement process that included industry, partners and Indigenous communities.
Saunders noted that 91% of those reached during the engagement process agreed that an Indigenous tourism association would be an asset for their communities. They also felt it could help businesses to prosper and reconcile with the past. She added, “this is the first step in laying a solid foundation for the Indigenous peoples of this province to positively impact their communities through the fastest growing tourism sector in Canada. Indigenous tourism is about so much more than economic benefit, it is about giving the community a platform through which they can share their own stories and values.”
Community pre-launch events were held in Goose Bay and in Corner Brook so that community people would have the opportunity to be the first to hear about the new plan. In Corner Brook Chief Brendan Mitchell was on hand to pledge his support to the development of Indigenous Tourism.
To learn more about NLITA, the new Provincial Indigenous Tourism Strategy, and how Mi’kmaq and Qalipu member owned businesses can be part of the good work being done, please visit nlita.net or connect with Tara Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org