From left

Victoria aboriginal festival highlights growing industry

B.C. is likely "leading the world" in aboriginal tourism development

The three-day Aboriginal Cultural Festival taking place in downtown Victoria this weekend is highlighting a thriving tourism industry in B.C., say organizers.

B.C. is likely “leading the world” in aboriginal tourism development and the industry grew 22 per cent in 2013 alone, said Keith Henry, CEO of Aboriginal Tourism B.C.

“People really want to know the story: what is the real history of this province before 1867,” he said. “They also want to know the benefits are going back to the local communities as much as they can, and I think that driving force is really why aboriginal tourism is growing.”

Aboriginal Tourism B.C. numbers show the industry resulted in $45 million in direct spending last year. Henry and his colleagues returned earlier this month from a trade show in Shanghai, and they’re working with nearly 150 First Nations to develop tourism draws for their individual communities, Henry said.

“We’ve got another 192 businesses in development. It’s significant for jobs and for real revenues for the communities.”

Henry said the acceptance of tourism in some First Nations communities has been slow on the uptake, but many are realizing their culture can be presented honestly to the benefit of all.

“There was (initially) a fear that maybe communities were commercializing their culture, but they see it can be done in a respectful manner,” he said.

Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam, a sponsor of this weekend’s festival, said he’s never seen so much collaboration between provincial and regional partners to foster aboriginal tourism and to celebrate First Nations culture.

“(This festival) is something I have wanted for a long time,” he said. “There was the First Peoples festival that used to happen in the Inner Harbour, and will happen again this year, but this event has included so much consultation. We want to make this an annual event.”

Sandy Pratt, the RBCM’s vice president of business development, said the museum is hosting the festival on its grounds to support a “shared vision” of aboriginal partnership.

The coinciding launch of the Royal B.C. Museum’s Our Living Languages exhibition  this weekend highlights the 203 First Nations, 34 languages and 61 distinct dialects that make up the collective B.C. aboriginal culture.

This weekend

The Aboriginal Cultural Festival takes place today and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the Royal B.C. Museum grounds. The event features local and travelling dancers, singers, artisans and traditional First Nations cuisine.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

Greater Victoria woman goes on gratitude mission to thank first responders

Jen Klein fainted while driving and crashed on Pat Bay Highway in 2019

Non-venomous ball python missing in Vic West

Snake was reported missing to Victoria police Tuesday morning

Multiple Victoria officers injured during violent incidents, including mental health calls over long weekend

Police deploy pepper spray, conducted energy weapon while arresting suspect

Crews respond to medical incident on West Saanich Road

Incident appears to be cleared, witnesses say

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Most Read