Wiikwemkoong honored with the inaugural Indigenous Tourism Award of Excellence

Kevin Eshkawkogan of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, Luke Wassegijig, Wikwemikong Tourism manager, Lyndsay Brissard, president of the Wikwemikong Development Corporation board, Christianna Jones, Wii’nii’Gutch Tood LMS, Colleen Wassegijig, Wii’nii’Gutch Tood LMS, John Dube, Wiikwemkoong band councillor/Rainbow Ridge Golf Course manager and Beth Potter of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario gather following the awards ceremony.

WINDSOR—The Ontario Tourism Summit hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario recently celebrated its biggest and brightest in the industry at the Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence, among them Wikwemikong Tourism.

The Ontario Tourism Summit, for the first time in its history, recognized the contributions of Indigenous businesses. The Indigenous Tourism Award of Excellence “recognizes an organization, individual or experience that has demonstrated a commitment to the development and promotion of authentic, cultural Indigenous experiences for visitors to Ontario.” Fresh off its 2017 Tourism Champion award by the Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario, Wikwemikong Tourism has been awarded with the inaugural Indigenous Tourism Award. Nominated alongside the Point Grondine Park, they have proven that Indigenous Tourism is thriving in Ontario.

With over 900 Indigenous tourism businesses in the province they were selected as a leader for their commitment to developing authentic Indigenous products. “It’s a tremendous honour to be recognized for the work we are doing. We have come a long way to build our brand and we couldn’t have done it without our team and strong leadership that supports our vision,” said Tourism Manager Luke Wassegijig.

Since 2008, Wiikwemkoong has been building a foundation for sustainable tourism development throughout their territory on Manitoulin Island and in the Killarney region.

“The Wikwemikong Development Commission has been working very hard in the past 10 years to promote Wikwemikong Tourism,” said Ogimaa Duke Peltier. “Because of our tourism strategy, we have been moving forward in the industry by developing our infrastructure, marketing/branding concepts, products and promoting our cultural events. It is a great honour to have Wiikwemkoong recognized for its successes through the Indigenous Tourism Award.”

In more recent years, Wikwemikong Tourism has been making strides in the industry by offering their unique brand of authentic cultural tours to travellers from both international and domestic markets. Thanks to partnerships with local organizations such as Wii-ni n’guch-tood Labour Market Services, Wikwemikong Tourism has built capacity by training their members in industry recognized certifications including cultural guide training with local knowledge keepers.

“It’s through these partnerships and others that make events such as the Wiikwemkong Annual Cultural Festival and annual Ice Fishing Derby premier events and economic drivers on Manitoulin Island,” Mr. Wassegijig added.

Provincially, Wikwemikong Tourism has developed a credible trail program by working with First Nations and municipalities in planning and building trail systems. More notably the program is credited for building the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail and the Point Grondine Park.

These initiatives, along with partnerships with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and Indigenous Tourism Ontario, are the reasons that Wikwemikong Tourism is contributing to the national strategy of growing Indigenous tourism in Canada, with growth in revenues, jobs and successful business.

To learn more about Wikwemikong Tourism visit their website at wiikwemkoong.ca or visit them on Facebook at wikwemikongtourism.