(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)  – The finalists for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada’s (ITAC) annual Indigenous Tourism Awards were announced today. 

Both the national and provincial awards will be presented during the 10th annual International Indigenous Tourism Conference (IITC) on Thursday, March 9, 2023, hosted in Treaty 1 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis (Winnipeg, MB). A highlight of IITC  is the annual awards gala, where exceptional Indigenous leaders and Indigenous tourism experiences are recognized and celebrated.

ITAC and Indigenous Tourism Manitoba (ITM) will be recognizing Indigenous-owned tourism associations, businesses, entrepreneurs, and people from across Canada who have demonstrated exceptional work in leadership, partnership, development and marketing, and business ethic.

“It’s invigorating to see so many nominations representing a very impressive and diverse group of Indigenous operators from coast to coast to coast,” says Keith Henry, CEO and President of ITAC. “Along with ITM, we will be celebrating the outstanding achievements of so many Indigenous entrepreneurs on March 9th.” 

This year, more than 60 nominations were received, showcasing first-rate Indigenous tourism experiences across the country. Each year, nominees must be majority Indigenous owned/controlled and provide tourism experiences or tourism related services.

The finalists for each category include:

National Awards

Business Innovation Award

Honours operators who have demonstrated the ability to pivot and adapt to the new environment COVID-19 brought with it and new business that opened since 2020 and has been able to garner success during uncertain times in the tourism industry.

Female Entrepreneur Award

Recognizes strong, empowered Indigenous female entrepreneurs who demonstrate a commitment to uplifting other female entrepreneurs in their industry while embodying leadership within their business and/or community.

Leading the Way in Sustainability Award

Operators are not only committed to fostering a regenerative future for their business and community but have made significant and measurable impacts in the areas of social sustainability, cultural sustainability and/or environmental sustainability.

The Original Original Award for Exceptional Industry Leadership

Recognizes a business or organization leading the way through the demonstration of excellence in all aspects of its business, such as marketing campaigns, Trip Advisor reviews, revenues generated, low staff turnover and repeat customers.

Provincial/Territorial Association of the Year Award

Recognizes a Provincial or Territorial Association that demonstrates excellence in all aspects of ITAC’s 4 Pillars of  Leadership, Partnership, Development & Marketing to build a resilient Indigenous tourism industry.

Provincial Awards

New Operator or Business that Launched a New Experience Award
Recognizes a phoenix rising through the ashes during one the most difficult times in recent history. This honour is awarded to a new business or experience that opened between 2020 – 2022.

Cultural Experience Award

Recognizes the outstanding delivery of cultural knowledge and guest experiences at Indigenous Cultural Centres, Museums, Galleries, Retail Stores, Food Establishments, Entertainments Centres and Spa/Retreats, Outdoor Adventure, Wildlife Viewing, and Outdoor Guided Tours in Manitoba.

Outstanding Staff Person Award

Recognizes a youth ambassador or Elder for their extraordinary dedication and exceptional performance while bringing passion for their culture and history and commitment to achieving excellence for the business in Manitoba.

The Leading the Way in Business Development Award
Recognizes a community-based business thriving in tourism business development at an inspiring rate and demonstrates the implementation of proper protocol, from community consultation to community buy-in.