Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Travel and The Meeting

Travellers of all ages, resources, and experience are looking for more engaging and meaningful experiences. People are seeking a travel experience ‘with a human face' where the key element is authenticity and the desire is to get as close to 'the real deal' as possible. Travellers are looking for human encounters that create moments of great emotion whether they're immersing themselves deep in culture for weeks or months or planning their one or two precious weeks of vacation time. Don't we all want more than a manufactured tourism experience and the ability to hear the true cultural narrative of a place?

But how to obtain such things? Let's explore ways to experience a new place to the fullest by making a real connection with others - a genuine, local, and authentic relationship. And not surprisingly, it all starts by looking at our own attitudes and practicing self-awareness.

Leaving our Ego Behind
Egocentrism has no place when seeking authentic travel experiences. Besides, on a journey we tend to become strangers while exploring lands unknown to us. Forgetting for a time our identity, our roots and our social status. We forgot our certainties and rest on the same pedestal as the people whom we meet, without judging values of inferiority or superiority. Respecting each other's differences with empathy and kindness is already a great step forward.

Listening Rather Than Speaking
Because listening is the basis of all relationships, dialogue is essential for fostering meaningful travel experiences. To listen with altruism and humanity and to argue without imposing one's certainty is an opening for dialogue, an essential element in the relationship with others. Without dialogue, we cannot fully experience our encounters with others. The journey begins when we allow ourselves to become fully immersed in a place, by listening to what it has to tell us. 

By Taming the Unknown
When travelling in a new place, our certainties are questioned and our habits are shaken. This new place scares us, and modifies our vision of the world, especially if one wishes to travel alone. To travel and discover unknown lands and cultures and to observe the plurality of worlds, is also to confront one's apprehensions and weaknesses and to go beyond one's comfort zone. To expose yourself to the unknown and the unpredictable, opens you up to the unveiling of yourself, often repressed or unexploited. The trip makes you grow!

By Indulging in Slowness
At work and at home, ‘taking the time' is not a common practice. It is necessary that we go fast! But it is all about the art of living slowly; of stopping, of taking the time to listen, to gaze, to feel and not to conduct visits at high speed while simply accumulating photos, memories and numbers of places visited. Slowness is wisdom.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Local Community Champion Driving Economic Development Through Cultural Preservation

Upon first meeting David Kattegatsiak of Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, he seems like your regular Economic Development Officer. But David’s desire to bring meaningful benefits to his community and passion to preserve local heritage and culture are unquestionable and evident in every project that he undertakes.

CES has had the pleasure of working with David and the community of Chesterfield Inlet for the past 4 years. As somewhat of a new member of the CES team, the project that I have been most intimately involved with has been Chesterfield Inlet’s 5-Year Community Economic Development Plan. Throughout this project, I have experienced first-hand the drive and determination that David has to push projects forward to create lasting benefits for his community.

Chesterfield Inlet 2023: Community Economic Development Plan is based on providing realistic recommendations for social and economic development, that are based on the needs and opinions of community members. David’s intimate knowledge of local and territorial conditions has enabled CES to provide meaningful suggestions that are both feasible and achievable and will help Chesterfield move towards its community goals.

David is also championing Chesterfield Inlet’s efforts to develop sustainable cultural tourism and ecotourism. Chesterfield Inlet’s beautiful community website is attractive, inviting and illustrates a true representation of what the community has to offer. The professionally developed site allows potential visitors to see the ‘real Chesterfield’ and immerse themselves in beautiful photos of the community’s arctic landscapes, history and get acquainted with some of Chesterfield’s warm and welcoming community members.

It is no secret that one of David’s passions is his home community’s history and heritage. Another one of David’s notable projects is the preservation of the community’s historical sites and heritage buildings. Chesterfield Inlet possesses some remarkable ancient Thule sites, that were inhabited by the ancestors of the modern-day Inuit. These heritage sites include the remains of ancient homes, fox traps, food caches and kayak stands all made from stones. The community’s archaeological treasures and historical sites have inspired David to pursue an Archaeological Mapping project that aims develop interpretive signage as well as an interactive map of the community’s heritage resources.

Chesterfield Inlet’s dedication to its cultural past does not stop at preserving its physical heritage resources. The knowledge of Elders and traditional Inuit traditional knowledge, referred to as Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is actively being preserved via the community’s digital storytelling project, Chesterfield Inlet StoriesIt is here that the community’s history and contemporary culture is showcased through an interactive storytelling platform. The website and mobile app encourage community members to share their stories of hunting on the land, family and many other important aspects of Inuit life.

In Chesterfield Inlet the groundwork has been laid for a truly authentic and memorable cultural tourism destination and a big portion of the credit for this is owed to David. From the community’s historical walking tour to a  community-wide 5-year tourism strategy, David’s commitment to promote his culture and bring economic benefits to his community is undeniably strong and admirable.