Monday, January 14, 2019

Jennifer Fröhling & Dennis ShortyThe very definition of Indigenous Cultural Entrepreneurs

I recently spoke at the YFNCT Conference – Advancing Indigenous Tourism 2018 this past December, and had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jenny & Dennis (affectionately referred to as ‘Jennis’ because they are always together building their craft and sharing with others).  

Dennis – a multifaceted artist - performed with Jenny, singing beautiful traditional songs that truly warmed our hearts, especially when we were enlightened by their meaning.  What struck me was their ability to share and open their life experiences unselfishly for the betterment of others.  Not only do they perform on stage, but they operate a homestay where visitors can experience firsthand their traditional ways and values.  

Guests leave inspired, educated and spiritually rejuvenated.  Guided by Jenny and animated by Dennis, there lives’ work as artists has become a continuous positive tool for healing for Dennis as a residential school survivor.  His songs share his feelings, and his art and stories have revived his cultural knowledge and spirit which now allow for a transfer of knowledge to the next generation.  

Photo credit: CBC News
Their authentic efforts for preserving and celebrating indigenous culture show the true spirit and opportunity for healing and reconciliation with tourists and visitors alike. 

I am planning to be in the Yukon once again this coming year, but not without having a stay with Jenny & Dennis, simply because they are beautiful human beings who inspire me to keep looking for more ways to support and promote Indigenous Cultural Entrepreneurs across our great indigenous landscape. 

If you would like to learn more about visiting cultural entrepreneurs in the Yukon contact Caili at YFNCT

Or drop me a note at if you want to join me in a best practices trip to the Yukon to see cultural entrepreneurs making a real difference.

The Power of ‘Breaking Bread’

Sharing a meal is a simple yet powerful way to find common ground and begin to get to know someone new. Food is one of our most basic needs, and as such it can bring us together to celebrate our mutual necessities for life – but it can also be an opportunity to share some of what makes our cultures unique.

Here in Winnipeg every summer we celebrate our multiculturalism through the expression of dress, performances, and yes – food. Folklorama is the world’s largest multicultural festival, and each year upwards of 400,000 people attend more than 40 ‘pavilions’ representing distinct cultural groups in our city. 

Around the world culinary tourism continues to grow, and Canada’s Indigenous people are in a perfect position to engage tourists this way. Some of my most memorable experiences working with our clients have been based around food. Wild blueberries with flaked whitefish inside a teepee in Waskaganish; being invited to a lunch of freshly caught walleye; and stuffing myself with the best bannock I’ve ever had, courtesy of Anna in Ouje-Bougamou!

Some care has to be given to serving wild game, but fish, berries, wild rice, and a wide variety of other dishes can be offered to tourists in your community. And don’t stop there – a big part of culinary tourism is the inclusion of cooking classes. Offer a class on bannock making, preparing and cooking fish, or gathering wild berries, mushrooms, and other forest edibles.  
Culinary tourism can form part of the foundation of your community’s tourism plan, and is an easy ‘add on’ to other activities already being offered.

To talk more about incorporating culinary tourism in your community, contact Jason at 1-877-444-5550, or by email at

Friday, January 11, 2019

Cultural Entrepreneurs – The Heart of the Indigenous Tourism Industry

As we enter into 2019, I can’t help but reflect on the year that has just passed; its successes, its challenges and things that I am particularly proud of. This past summer and fall, CES had the honour of collaborating with one of our most valued clients, Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO), in conducting a series of workshops across Ontario. This was a particularly impactful experience for me, as I had the opportunity to meet some truly inspiring people.

We joined Steven Antoine, a renowned Ojibwe tour guide from Manitoulin Island, in delivering the workshops. Over a 2-week period in October, we travelled from east to west, inviting Indigenous community members, Indigenous tourism businesses and tourism partners to share their opinions about the Indigenous tourism industry in Ontario and to provide information about the programs that ITO offers. 

Steve is what we call a ‘Cultural Entrepreneur’. You may have heard this term before or you may be wondering what it means. A Cultural Entrepreneur is someone who shares their knowledge and carries a cultural legacy while teaching others about Indigenous traditions, beliefs and ways of life.

Photo credit: Yukon First Nations Culture & Tourism
Over the course of our road trip across Ontario, I learned so much from Steve; the stories, the legends and the experiences that he shared taught me more about Indigenous culture than my years at school. I am honoured that he was willing to share this cultural knowledge with me and I know that it has changed my personal outlook.

For this reason, I believe so strongly in the power of Indigenous tourism. Now, more than ever, is the time that our world needs this traditional Indigenous knowledge, for reconciliation, for the future of our Earth and for many other reasons. Indigenous tourism is a medium for sharing and understanding these ideas. 

The ITO Research Study will be completed early this year and the findings will be used to help the provincial organization move forward in supporting Indigenous Cultural Entrepreneurs across Ontario.

Steve Antoine is a tour guide at Wikwemikong Tourism on Manitoulin Island, for more information: