Six Manitoulin Island tourism initiatives to receive funding from FedNor

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MANITOULIN—A total of six initiatives are being funded through FedNor that will benefit Manitoulin Island. FedNor is investing nearly $9.7 million in Northern Ontario’s tourism sector toward more than 70 tourism projects.

As September 27 marked the United Nations World Tourism Day, the honourable Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous services and minister responsible for FedNor, announced the FedNor investments that will protect, strengthen, and grow Northern Ontario’s tourism sector.

“Tourism in Northern Ontario is such an important economic driver, creating good jobs and bringing people from all corners of the world to our beautiful region,” said Minister Hajdu. “As the industry rebounds following two years of immense challenges. This funding will allow businesses and operators to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed and help create and maintain over 280 jobs. I invite everyone across the country to put Northern Ontario on their list of places to visit, come and see what spectacular sights and attractions our region has to offer.”

Sheshegwaning First Nation is receiving $760,887 to construct a new multi-use leadership centre.

Sheshegwaning Chief Alana Endanawas said she was extremely pleased to see the funding being provided by FedNor for the community. “This funding will help us begin phase one for the new multi-use leadership centre. The Leadership Centre will support our needs in new roles to drive the content and direction of new programming, along with supporting existing programs that Sheshegwaning currently provides.”

“This has been an interesting experience to watch from the very beginning stages of this project up until now,” said Chief Endanawas. “For many years, chief and council have been extremely supportive towards this very important project, and we are finally starting to see everything fall into place for the vision that started it all.”

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is receiving funding of $75,790 to promote the benefits of living, working and visiting Northern Ontario through the ‘FONOM Video project 2022.’

“We really appreciate the funding support from FedNor,” stated Danny Whalen, FONOM president. We had the ‘Go North Video’ project for two years which included profiling businesses in all our eight of our districts. The reaction was incredible. These videos were viewed hundreds of thousands of times.”

“There is always a lot of talk about Northern Ontario being a nice place to visit, but there is always mention of obstacles that would keep people from other parts of the province and areas from visiting, living or working in the North,” said Mr. Whalen.

“We are really excited and grateful for the funding being provided by FedNor,” stated Mr. Whalen.

A total of $211,713 in funding is being provided to Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association (MSIA). MSIA is receiving $211,713 to promote angling tourism through a series of infrastructure upgrades, events and marketing initiatives.

Seija Deschenes, coordinator of MSIA told The Expositor with this funding and prior funding provided this year from the NOHFC $272,201, and $50,000 through the Douglas A. Smith Foundation, “we will continue to restore stream sites identified in our enhancement strategies and help communities adapt to climate change impacts to infrastructure, increase tourism to our local rural communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic by improving and adding angling/educational platforms to their waterfront development project, increasing economic stimulus and increasing outdoor tourism opportunities. We will work in partnership with our Indigenous communities by supporting land-based restoration in their territory.”

MSIA will restore 10 stream sites to enhance fisheries resources in three communities (Billings and Tehkummah townships, and Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory). It will install two angling platforms, in Billings and Wiikwemkoong with educational signage to promote angling and the fisheries, improve hiking trails to be more accessible and enhance tourist experiences visiting these areas. “We will also implement an angling trade show to create awareness and drive economic stimulus to businesses supporting the fishing sector.”

MSIA will highlight and promote all fishing derbies on Manitoulin Island through various social media forums and local angling sites and television shows to highlight our region as a fishing destination and will work with communities to help adapt to water level fluctuations due to climate change and work in partnership with businesses to create tours to improve experiences for tourists.

Ms. Deschenes said, “We have been developing an interactive angling and outdoor recreation map that will provide all the needs of anglers visiting the Island. The map will be identifying all boat launches and convenience stores, and fish species that have been identified by the Ministry of Natural Resources in all lakes on the Island.”

“We will be reaching out shortly to businesses that provide products and services in the fisheries sector and adding them on to the map,” continued Ms. Deschenes. “We have also added hiking trails across the Island onto the map to encourage exploring Manitoulin. Therefore, locals or tourists visiting the Island can add the map to their cell phone and have everything at the tips of their fingers by just clicking the icons on the map,” explained Ms. Deschenes. MSIA is also looking at having a small annual fee to be placed on the map and all funds raised will go back toward improving the fishery and restoration work on Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates (MICA) is receiving funding of $57,000 to develop and launch the Manitoulin Digital Outdoor Experience Museum (MODEM).

“MODEM will be a tour guide at your fingertips,” stated Maja Mielonen, president of MICA.

Ms. Mielonen explained, “storytellers are collecting Island-wide points of interest, anecdotes, photos and film clips and will all be integrated on an app. Route itineraries starting in seven locations, where MICA ebike locations are set up, will guide you past the points of interest and at the precise GPS location you will be able to read or listen and view the story, photos and video clips in English and French perhaps even hear some stories provided by our Indigenous communities.”

“We are reaching out and asking museum curators, municipalities, schools, and the people of Manitoulin to also provide us with stories you think need to be told,” said Ms. Mielonen. “The funding for this exciting project of $57,000 came out of FedNor’s COVID Tourism Recovery Fund, Destination Northern Ontario marketing dollars and MICA fund contributions. MICA is grateful that our funders agreed that MODEM, a tool that increases the knowledge of our Island’s diverse history, environment, fauna, flora and the stories of the people living here, will create a deep sense of place, healthy sense of pride and the will to protect it.”

“MODEM is app driven and is planned to be ready in spring 2023 for a nominal fee and will be provided to the Rainbow District School Board for free to use on field trips around the Island. MODEM is a great tool to let our visitors from all over the world experience our Islands identity at a deeper level and return home with a story to tell of their own,” continued Ms. Mielonen. She added, “if you would like to contribute please provide your stories to manitoulincycling@yahoo.ca We will try to include as many as possible.”

“This is very good news,” stated Sophie Corbiere of the FedNor funding being provided to Ojibwe Cultural Foundation. She explained, “we will be upgrading our HVAC system, to improve air quality in the OCF building, and we are retrofitting the lights in the building to those using less energy, some for programs, as well as hand sanitizers and some tables for our outdoor programs.”

The Municipality of Central Manitoulin received  $75,264 to develop and implement a tourism adaptation strategy for the Manitoulin Island and  Lacloche Foothills area. 

The Great Lakes Cruise Association is receiving $65,828 to revitalize and expand cruise tourism in the Great Lakes.