Manic Monday | The Largest Indigenous Tourism Conference in the World

Midnight Musings from our CEO

It is hard to believe it has already been a week since the Thompson Okanagan Region played host to just shy of 800 delegates at the 2019 International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Kelowna, BC; the largest event of its kind ever held.

It was also the first time that three Indigenous Nations have come together to host this conference. The Syilx, Nlaka’pamux, and Secwépemc Nations together with Tourism Kelowna, Indigenous Tourism BC, Indigenous Tourism Canada, and ourselves at Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association were the collective hosts for an inspiring, engaging and, at times, emotional week.

What struck me the most personally was the tremendous uplifting nature of the entire event. Collaboration, cooperation, understanding, and a sense that there is a strong willingness and desire by all parties; Indigenous and Non-Indigenous, to work together to build a unique and authentic tourism experience and life together that we can all be proud of.

Many important activities took place throughout the entire week however, it was also a very meaningful week for our association. TOTA not only hosted its Annual AGM on the first day of the conference but was instrumental in two other very special announcements that took place.

On Wednesday evening, we could not have been more proud to launch the first Indigenous Artisan Trail Mobile Gallery together with our major partners at ITBC,  Western Economic Diversification (WED) and the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT).

This Gallery, which will travel throughout the Thompson Okanagan attending festivals, pow wows, markets, and special events, will promote and retail the work of the Interior Salish Artisans. It will also serve to elevate and educate on the culture and history of Interior Indigenous peoples through dance, song, music, and art demonstrations.

Of course, a project like this does not happen without many strong supporters and we thank all those that have assisted in making this a reality. Watch for more on the location of the IArT Mobile Gallery early in the new year.

The second major announcement that took place for our organization last week was the unveiling of the Thompson Okanagan Regional Pledge – 7 Affirmations for 7 Generations.  Taking over two years to develop, with input from local indigenous communities, advisory committee members, resident surveys, and international scholars and colleagues, we could not be more honored and humbled by the final document. We believe this pledge sets the tone for the future and clearly expresses the importance of taking precious care of all that we have and all that we are.

View The Pledge

More will be forthcoming on the pledge and the plans for its distribution in the coming weeks and months but I am very happy to share it with you today.

It was an emotional and important week for all that participated in the International Indigenous Tourism Conference. If you were in attendance, thank you! If you missed it, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be hearing a lot more about the outcomes and the importance of the discussions and work that is underway.

We are all stronger together, more interesting together, more enlightened together, and most importantly, able to show the world the way to be Better Together.

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