Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CES’s Pando Terra™

We do a lot of planning here at CES; mostly for our clients in the form of business plans, and community and regional strategies.

As we’re getting ready to begin working with another community on a cohesive community tourism plan I wanted to take a minute to express how powerful this type of plan can be.

In a community with a multitude of committees, departments, and special interest groups – lead by a Council or Committee that is made up of individuals who themselves may have different visions and priorities – it becomes increasingly valuable to have a unified tourism plan.

Your plan needs to listen to all voices, and address every element of your community that will create a sustainable platform for your local tourism industry. Without this comprehensive approach your community runs the risk of incongruent initiatives, contradictory development, and wasted time and money in the process.

Create a Tourism Committee made up of representatives from your Tourism Department, Recreation Department, Culture & Heritage Department, School Board, Economic Development Department, Youth Department, Council, etc.  Make them the custodians of your plan; this way, if there is a change in local politics the plan can remain in effect, securely in the hands of the Tourism Committee.

CES’s Pando Terra™ Tourism Master Plan process addresses 7 critical elements of community sustainability, and promotes a cooperative platform for tourism development. And unlike traditional 3 to 5 year plans, Pando Terra™ is designed to be a fluid planning tool, adapting to changing realities and maintaining its functionality years into the future.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to planning, send me an email at clinton@cesclients.com, or call me toll free at 1-877-444-5550.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Community App Testimonial from Kitselas First Nation

Find out what the My Community App Project means to Web Bennet from Kitselas First Nation. Check out this video at  My Community App Project

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Building Sustainable Relationships with Industry – A Couple Stories to Share

Consultation and communication between the Resource Extraction Industry and First Nations communities has its challenges. Many of the projects take place in remote communities on indigenous lands, resulting in social and environmental impacts. So how can we build more sustainable relationships between communities and industry?

The Resource Extraction Industry is receiving increased pressure to provide support to the communities they work with. Projects that support cultural preservation, economic development and capacity building programs are priorities for most Resource Extraction Companies. If a community is moving forward in working with industry it only makes sense that an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) includes preservation of culture along with responsible and sustainable socioeconomic development.  These partnerships can be win-win and work towards creating symbiotic relationships between industry and communities while putting First Nation’s culture and values first!

CES’s mandate has always been to support local community development initiatives that ensure preservation of culture through responsible socioeconomic development and empowerment.  Over the past few years we’ve created an interactive mobile platform that allows communities to celebrate the spirit and identity of their people through digital storytelling, known as the My Community App. The My Community App provides a platform for community members to share their voice and enables them to support their goals and celebrate their story and culture.

West Moberly Storyscapes App
For many communities, funding has always been a roadblock in bringing these types of projects to life, so we thought we would share some success stories from the communities that we’ve worked with to get these projects off the ground.

Teck Resources Ltd. and West Moberly First Nation teamed up to create the Storyscapes Project. Teck inc. committed to working with West Moberly to bridge their communication gap through a digital storytelling project that shares the spirit and identity of West Moberly First Nation on an interactive App. This mobile App provides an understanding of the community’s culture, their modern way of living, and what’s important to them. The App can be found at  http://westmostoryscapes.com.

In Kitselas First Nation, Chevron provided funding support to assist them in moving forward with their digital storytelling project. It was Web Bennet, the Coordinator for the Kitselas Canyon Historic Site’s dream to see this project come to life and Chevron provided them an opportunity to move forward with this initiative in order to help preserve their culture and share their history with the world. This project is still currently in development.

Web and Audrey Bennet from Kitselas First Nation
There are also other Resource Extraction Companies across Canada that are providing support to move projects such as these forward such as Noront Resources and De Beers Canada. It is up to the communities to take the initiative and collaborate with industry to bring their projects to life.   By working together with CES, communities and industry can benefit greatly. CES has the tools and resources to help both industry and communities to work together in preserving and building meaningful relationships.  As part of our own corporate social responsibility, CES also provides ongoing support for proposal writing, filling out funding applications, and programs that offer in-kind contributions to move community initiatives forward.

For more information and ideas on how to get started contact info@cesclients.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Want to Preserve your Culture through Cultural Entrepreneurship?

How Indigenous Communities can use Technology to Attract Socially Conscious Travelers

Author: Amanda Huculak, Project Manager of CES
Co-Author: Clinton Belcher, President and CEO of CES

Organizational Affiliation: Project Manager with CES and pre - Masters of Geography student at the University of Manitoba, Canada

Mailing Address:

359 McDermot Ave
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3A 0A6, Canada

Contact Info:

Telephone: 1-204-946-0768
Fax: 1-204-946-0780
Email: amanda@cesclients.com
Website: www.cesclients.com


There is a growing demand to link the environment, culture and history with innovative mobile technology to enhance tourism experiences. Many Indigenous communities around the globe are at risk of losing their cultural traditions, and many lack employment opportunities for community members. This paper will define how Indigenous communities can use an innovative mobile web application (app), paired with a community economic development model to preserve their local culture, environment and history while creating economic benefits from socially conscious travellers.


Indigenous cultures have a strong connection to the land, paired with a strong oral history. Each community has a different relationship with the land, which may lead to conflicts in today’s society for those who do not have an understanding of cultural traditions and their spiritual significance (Zarsky, 2006). There is a need for innovative, accessible web-based applications that reach a wide audience to raise awareness about cultural values and history, the protection of sacred sites, and traditional environmental knowledge.

Tourism is a catalyst for economic development opportunities for Indigenous communities. The people in communities are a basic reason for tourists to travel, to experience a way of life and the products and services they offer (Hall & Richards, 2000).  In addition, accessible information and environmental sustainability are growing demands for many travelers. This paper will explore opportunities on how traditional knowledge and culture can be linked with mobile web applications to attract socially conscious travelers. The objective is to find a sustainable community tourism development model that is paired with a technical application that creates positive benefits for Indigenous communities and travelers alike. This involves creating a mobile web app that preserves cultures and traditions, produces positive socio-economic impacts for communities, and provides a meaningful, low impact cultural experience for travelers.

Mobile Web Applications for the Tourism Industry:

There are many mobile web applications that have a presence within the tourism industry that incorporate a variety of different features, from static web design to highly interactive mobile technology. The revolution of web-based applications has a profound impact on economic and social development within the tourism industry (Shanker, 2008). Emerging new technologies such as handheld mobile devices create new opportunities for eCommerce and eTourism (Barbara, et al). Information technology (IT) directly influences the experience and behaviour of tourists (Law, et al). Researchers have indicated that IT serves as a tool for both enabling and inducing change (Law, et al). Location-based features such as GPS and Augmented Reality (AR) play an important role improving the transfer of knowledge and education, understanding and helping with the protection and conservation of places and culture (Ali et al, 2010, Seo, et al, 2010).

Tourism markets are shifting due to changing economic conditions, modified consumer behaviours and new technologies (Moutinho et al, 2011). Tourists today expect convenient accessibility to information on a destination. The use of mobile phones with geographic location services has increased the convenience, entertainment value and security of travel (Antikainen et al, 2006). Since information is easily accessible, tourists are also becoming more socially aware of supporting the local economies they visit.

Since there is a wide array of mobile web applications with different features this paper will focus primarily on location-based services such as Augmented Reality (AR), GPS triggered points of interest, and audio & video features. AR provides intuitive and immersive experiences to tourists by superimposing virtual content on real environments and cultural sites (Seo, et al, 2010). An example of a project that uses mobile location-based services is the Finding Sacred Ground Mobile App. This project uses GPS and AR to raise awareness of Indigenous peoples and their traditional lands by revealing the hidden history of a place and its local people in an engaging format. Information is communicated from Indigenous storytellers and Elders through mobile devices. It is then programmed with song and AR in a unique combination to transform the visitor’s perspective of the land and their role in protecting it. Furthermore, it provides historical data that is used to educate and transfer knowledge to the community’s youth.

Another example is the Archeoguide, which provides information about cultural heritage sites using navigation and AR to reconstruct ancient life (Seo, et al, 2010). GPS tracking is an important feature for AR-based mobile applications because it displays virtual contents to tourists at specific locations and viewpoints (Seo, et al, 2010), creating a connection to the place and awareness of its cultural significance.

The Finding Sacred Ground Mobile App and the Archeoguide provide an engaging format for tourists to learn about the local culture and environment. But does a sustainable web-based mobile application for Indigenous communities create positive socio-economic benefits?

Socio-Economic Models for Sustainable Community Development

Tourism development at the community level often uses a top down approach that is driven by levels of government rather than community interests (Joppe, 1996). To maximize the benefits of local communities it is essential to create opportunities that empower community members (Scheyvens, 1999). Involving the local community creates environmental awareness, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities (Ali et al, 2010). Studies on Indigenous community development confirm that Indigenous peoples need to create their own unique community development plan. This establishes a sense of ownership and the subsequent responsibilities for ownership (Wesley-Esquimaux & Calliou, 2010). A community-based approach to sustainable tourism will promote both the quality of life for the local people and the conservation of natural resources.

Communities have their own values, meanings, customs and knowledge systems that create a unique identity, playing a role in sustainable community development (Daskon, 2010). Research shows that these features are dismissed in development planning (Daskon, 2010). Pando Terra is a model created by CES, a community and tourism development firm. It uses 7 elements to create a holistic approach to implementing sustainable community development. CES has worked with Indigenous communities in Canada and internationally for over 15 years and has learned that community development projects that are driven by top down methodologies are not effective. Pando Terra uses Indigenous ways to identify priorities and implement actions with the ability to adapt to nature (seasons), resources (people) and opportunities provided in the moment (spontaneous actions). Pando Terra loosely translated from Latin, means ‘to spread earth’. It represents the roots of sustainable community development and assists communities in keeping a self managing process with clear concise objectives to support self governing economic development.

Broad participation from community members is an important aspect for community development, creating ownership of the local tourism initiatives and projects (Joppe, 1996). Pando Terra™ uses an empowering community member driven process. The Model ensures community integration and self-management for economic opportunities and subsequent action for implementation.

It is important to note that sustainable community development differs in Indigenous communities because of cultural differences. For example, Indigenous communities throughout the world may be dealing with the effects of colonization, dispossession from lands and resources, and assimilation programs such as the residential school systems (Wesley-Esquimaux & Calliou, 2010). In addition, they also deal with issues such as poverty, loss of culture, and little employment or economic development within their communities (Wesley-Esquimaux & Calliou, 2010). Despite these constraints, there is a recognized need to engage community members, from youth to Elders, to revitalize traditional beliefs, values and practices (Wesley-Esquimaux & Calliou, 2010).

There are many ideas and strategies for community development that employ top down development processes. What makes Pando Terra unique is that it employs a bottom up grassroots approach that adapts to local realities and uses seven critical elements that link to one common goal for community sustainability:

1. Training and Human Resource Development
2. Educational Links & Transfer of Knowledge Applications
3. Linking Traditions with Technology
4. Protection of Environment, Heritage & Culture
5. Opportunities for Local Businesses
6. Employment Opportunities
7. Community Infrastructure

Pando Terra™ respects the cultural aspects of each community and adapts to the local realties ensuring the social values are not compromised, thus empowering people to succeed in their way, with their culture.

There is an opportunity for Indigenous communities to utilize innovative mobile web applications to preserve their local culture, environment and history. This will lead to creating economic benefits through tourism development by attracting travelers that are interested in learning about cultural traditions and values. It is essential to not only preserve the local culture, environment and history but to attract a target market that respects the values of the community.


This paper examines how web-based applications can be used to engage visitors by sharing stories about Indigenous communities’ culture, environment and history using a variety of interactive location-based features. CES’s TechTours, an interactive mobile application (app) that provides an engaging storytelling experience on a destination, will be compared with the Finding Sacred Grounds Mobile App and the Archeoguide. TechTours™ will be analyzed as a potential product used as a tool to create cultural awareness and lead to positive economic benefits for local Indigenous communities. The results will then be evaluated using CES’s Pando Terra model to demonstrate the effectiveness of using TechTours to achieve sustainable community-based development. The Pando Terra model will also evaluate the direct positive effects on the traveler in relation to the positive effects on the community.

Linking Culture and Traditions with Mobile Technology - TechTours™:

In this age of technology, linking traditions with technology has become a critical aspect of community-based tourism development. CES’s TechTours is a downloadable application for iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads, android smartphones and MP3 players that provides an interactive storytelling experience using Augmented Reality (AR) and GPS triggered technology. TechTours provides an interactive format to tour a destination and learn what makes a community or attraction unique through audio and video stories. The stories are captured on the ground by community Elders, leaders, youth ambassadors, and local guides, creating ownership and community pride. The stories are the foundation of the product and it is enhanced by innovative technology.

TechTours benefits Indigenous communities by putting their destination on the map resulting in an increase in tourist visits that contribute to the local economy. The main benefits for Indigenous communities are an increase in local employment opportunities, encouraged entrepreneurship, and the creation of revenue for local businesses such as accommodations, restaurants, arts and crafts and activities.

TechTours has the ability to be customized to meet the needs and the priorities of the community and may feature different cultural elements such as language preservation, traditional knowledge, Elder storytelling, history, and environmental education. The opportunities are limitless when using location-based services. The Finding Sacred Ground Mobile App is utilizing mobile applications with augmented reality features to help save ancient Indigenous sacred sites by revealing the hidden history of a place and its Indigenous caretakers (sacredland.org). Archeoguide uses AR features to recreate ancient life to educate tourists on the history of that particular place (Seo, et al, 2010). TechTours has the ability to use similar features demonstrated in both examples, but shares a similar theme and focus to the Finding Sacred Ground Mobile App which is to create awareness and preserve Indigenous cultures.

TechTours™ is being implemented and developed in Indigenous communities in Canada and internationally and its success will be evaluated in future publications. TechTours™ is an innovative tool in the industry when compared to the Finding Sacred Ground Mobile App and the Archeoguide. To measure how TechTours™ can contribute to positive economic development opportunities for communities it will be evaluated using the Pando Terra™ model.

In addition, it is important to ensure that TechTours attracts tourists that respect the local communities they visit and provide a positive impact. Tourists are in search of finding unique destinations and becoming immersed into a new cultural experience. The ‘socially conscious traveler’ is a term that encompasses values related to ecotourism, cultural tourism and sustainable tourism. This type of traveler is drawn to becoming immersed into a local culture, contributing to the local economy and not partaking in any activity that is harmful to the environment or disrespectful to locals.

TechTours is designed to attract socially conscious travelers by promoting the following:

  • an easily accessible platform that allows visitors to be immersed into a new cultural and historical experience;
  • information and education on culturally significant people and sites;
  • experiences that are low impact on the environment; and
  • positive socio-economic benefits for the local community.

Using Indigenous Ways to Create a Sustainable Community – Pando Terra™:

In order for TechTours™ as a product to be truly sustainable it is essential to implement Pando Terra as the model to manage controlled growth and community involvement. By having TechTours™ and Pando Terra working together simultaneously it ensures the Indigenous communities’ heritage and culture are protected and promoted responsibly. Pando Terra works in harmony with cultural traditions. Rather than focusing on tourism development as a catalyst for economic growth, tourism will develop naturally as a secondary outcome of a solid community platform based on Indigenous peoples’ identity, land and culture. People will want to know more about the community and learn about the people and their environment thus attracting socially conscious travelers. This will lead to an increased demand for entrepreneurial programming and product support.

Today’s Indigenous leaders are visionaries, committed to life-long learning and have the best interests of their community at heart (Wesley-Esquimaux & Calliou, 2010). The dialogue that is now taking place amongst Indigenous communities is strongly connected through oral histories and lived experiences (Wesley-Esquimaux & Calliou, 2010). Using technology to capture and revitalize oral history and knowledge will lead to progress and create a sense of community pride.

The tourism industry has the potential to produce detrimental environmental and socio-cultural impacts. The United Nations World Tourism Organization and other international bodies produced a number of reports that explore the new realities of tourism in the carbon-constrained world (WTTC, 2009). There is an emerging concern about the well being of local communities in tourist destinations and a need to reduce the industry’s environmental impacts. Therefore if tourists have a better understanding of the cultural values of the environments they visit they will have a higher level of respect and work towards preserving them. Using the TechTours™ product along with Pando Terra produces an alternative to conventional high impact tourism promotion and packaging, thus attracting socially conscious travelers.

Ensuring Sustainable Results

To ensure that TechTours is a sustainable platform that will help with community development it will be evaluated using the Pando Terra model. The table below demonstrates the effectiveness of using TechTours as a product (tool) for sustainable community-based development using the seven Pando Terra elements.

Table 1 - Evaluating TechTours™ application for Indigenous communities applying the Pando Terra™ model

Pando Terra Elements
TechTours Product Applications
1.Training and Human Resource Development
·  Training tool for local guides
2.Educational Links and Transfer of Knowledge Applications
·  Transfer of knowledge between Elders and Youth
·  Education tool in school programs e.g. learning Indigenous language
·  Empowers local community members
·  Creates awareness for sacred sites and cultural values
3.Linking Traditions with Technology
·  Uses an innovative mobile web app with location-based features to preserve and record cultural teachings
4.Protection of Environment, Heritage & Culture
·  Preserves and records cultural and traditional knowledge
·  Low carbon footprint e.g. promotes walking tours
·  Preserves local Indigenous languages
·  Provides information on historic sites in the community
5.Opportunities for Local Businesses
·  Promotes local artisans, restaurants, accommodations and tourism businesses
·  Marketing tool for local businesses
6.Employment Opportunities
·  Employs local guides to facilitate tours
·  Employs community members during development stages
7.Community Infrastructure
·  May lead to walking trail development and additional community infrastructure to support tourism visitors

Table 1 demonstrates that TechTours can not only help preserve and protect the local culture, environment and history of a place, it can also be used as a catalyst to create employment and business opportunities for Indigenous communities. The result will lead to positive socio-economic benefits for community members.

It is important to also evaluate the direct positive effects on the traveler in relation to the positive effects on the community. Table 2 measures the positive benefits for the socially conscious traveler in relation to community benefits using the Pando Terra™ model.

Table 2 - Evaluating the direct positive benefits of TechTours™ on socially conscious travelers and Indigenous communities using Pando Terra™ as the model for sustainable tourism development

Pando TerraElements
Benefits for Travelers
Benefits for Community
1.Training and Human Resource Development
·  Create demand to hire local guides – increase intrinsic value of visit
·  Support local management & training initiatives
·  Manage tourism development at a community level
·  Establish control over the level of visitation, impact, and market
·  Build local capacity

2.Educational Links and Transfer of Knowledge Applications
·  Become educated on local culture, customs and history of places
·  Learn cultural do’s and don’ts
·  Establish a higher level of respect for the community
·  Revitalize oral stories and teachings
·  Encourage transfer of knowledge between Elders and Youth
·  Preserve local languages
3.Linking Traditions with Technology
·  Have access to information on local Indigenous culture in an easy to use engaging format

·  Promote the community in an innovative way
·  Educate visitors about culture before, during and after their visit
·  Engage youth in a creative way

4.Protection of Environment, Heritage & Culture
·  Help directly contribute to preserving local culture and the environment
·  Become educated on the importance of the local environment
·  Have little to no negative impacts

·  Establish ownership of development initiatives creating a sense of pride
·  Prevent loss of land, history and culture
·  Revitalize traditional beliefs, values and practices
5.Opportunities for Local Businesses
·  Create a demand for new business and revenue creation
·  Word of mouth promotion of travel

·  Create organic, controlled economic growth at the community level
·  Use a grow as you go approach to business creation
·  Provide opportunities for youth
·  Establish support systems for local entrepreneurs

6.Employment Opportunities
·  Support local employment
·  Contribute directly to the community rather than supporting outside businesses
·  Employ community members during development stage
·  Create opportunities for youth to stay in the community
·  Reduce poverty levels

7.Community Infrastructure
·  Create a demand for small scale community infrastructure projects
Create positive spin off development projects such as restaurants, sustainable accommodations and other products and services


It is evident that there is a need to develop innovative, accessible mobile web-based applications for Indigenous communities to raise awareness about cultural values, the protection of sacred sites, and traditional environmental knowledge. The Pando Terra model demonstrates that TechTours is a viable option that Indigenous communities can use to encourage sustainable community-based development. TechTours™ addresses each of the seven Pando Terra™ elements ensuring community sustainability. In addition, it demonstrates positive benefits for both travelers and communities alike.

Innovative mobile web applications can become invaluable tools that contribute to the sustainability of tourism destinations. Customized mobile applications such as TechTours™, paired with a model for sustainable community development (Pando Terra™), can create economic opportunities while preserving the culture, environment and history of Indigenous communities. To ensure success, this approach to holistic sustainable community development should be designed at the community level and strategically marketed and accessible to the socially conscious traveler. This will ensure cultural traditions and significant sites are respected and protected for future generations.


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Daskon, Chandima. 2010. Culture, tradition and sustainable rural livelihoods: exploring the culture – development interface in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Community Development Journal. 45:4, 494 – 517.

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Seo, et al. 2010. A Tracking Framework for Augmented Reality Tours on Cultural Heritage Sites. Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.

Shanker, Deepthi. 2008. ICT and Tourism: Challenges and Opportunities. Conference on Tourism in India – Challenges Ahead, 15-17 May 2008, IIMK.

Wesley-Esquimaux, Cynthia and Brian Calliou. 2010. Best Practices in Aboriginal Community Development: A Literacture Review and Wise Practices Approach. The Banff Centre.

WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council). 2009. Leading the Challenge on Climate Change, February.