CES recently received a phone call from a man in Poplar River First Nation inquiring about our services. He is an entrepreneur who is looking to start up his own ecotourism business based out of his remote community, here in Manitoba. He hopes to take visitors out by canoe or boat for a 6-day tour on the river, while camping along the way.
Poplar River is an Ojibway community with an on-reserve population of 1500 people. There is no permanent road-access to Poplar River. Although it may appear that certain challenges would make it difficult to establish a sustainable business based around bringing visitors into the community, there are still many individuals whose passion and desire to share their culture and teachings on the land is stronger than the obstacles, such as our friend from Poplar River.
The natural environment surrounding the community of Poplar River can be described in no better way than pristine. The land and water are unpolluted and there is no industrial activity happening in the general region. This area is covered by swaths of Boreal forest, countless lakes, rivers and bogs, where moose, bear, beaver and woodland caribou go undisturbed. Having spent a significant amount of time in this beautiful environment, I personally know how truly special it is. There are not many places left like this one.
Hence the reason and desire that locals have to share its beauty with visitors. I am a firm believer in the power of experiencing wilderness first-hand; there is something indescribable about spending time in nature and its ability to teach us about ourselves and our relationship to the world.
The value of nature (and its intricate link to Indigenous culture) was formally recognized this past summer with Canada’s first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Pimachiowin Aki, or “the land that gives life” is a territory encompassing 29,000 square kilometres of untouched Boreal forest on both sides of the Manitoba/Ontario boarder. Acquiring World Heritage Status was an incredible accomplishment, a process which spanned 17 years and has been a collaboration between 4 First Nation communities.
In the past, CES has had the pleasure of working with the Pimachiowin Aki Corporation in creating a Go Forward Strategy to identify objectives and opportunities for pursuing land-based cultural tourism and ecotourism within Pimachiowin Aki. We are excited to see how the UNESCO designation will help bring awareness to the region and help cultural entrepreneurs develop their ecotourism-based businesses.
Poplar River First Nation falls within Pimachiowin Aki and the community has been a key proponent in pursuing the UNESCO designation. As a company, we at CES obtain inspiration from our clients; individuals who are pursuing their passions for sharing their culture, preserving their land and bringing meaningful benefits to their communities. We wish our friend from Poplar River all the success in his ecotourism venture.
To learn more about Poplar River First Nation, visit their website: https://www.prfn.ca/
An article and video about Sophia and Ray Rabliauskas from Poplar River who helped establish the UNESCO World Heritage Status for Pimachiowin Aki: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2016/05/31/inside-one-couples-fight-to-protect-canadas-boreal-forest