January 20, 2020, Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC)– The board of the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations (ICAN) has announced Chef Joseph Shawana as Acting Chair, stepping in for Chef Bill Alexander who is taking leave of absence due to health reasons.
Launched with a vision for a world where Indigenous food is not a dish served for one but a cultural feast and celebration of Nations, ICAN is dedicated to sharing Indigenous food, culinary and cultural experiences from across Canada with the world. In November, an MOU between ITAC and ICAN was signed to support a strategic framework to develop and market the country’s many Indigenous culinary experiences, and in turn, foster the growth of Indigenous culinary tourism on a national level.
As a passionate advocate for the importance of Indigenous cuisine and as part of the nation’s culinary tourism landscape, Chef Bill Alexander was instrumental in identifying culinary leaders representing Indigenous communities across Canada and leading ICAN in reaching its goals.
“We wish Bill a speedy recovery and are thankful for his dedication and leadership, which assisted us in building a solid foundation for ICAN,” says Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. “As the demand for authentic Indigenous tourism experiences grows globally, we see the development of Indigenous food experiences as critical in responding to this demand.”
Chef Shawana is Odawa, part of the Three Fires Confederacy. Born and raised in Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve located on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, he was brought up knowing that food is life. Currently an Indigenous culinary advisor at Ontario’s Centennial College, Chef Shawana has been named one of the top ten chefs in Ontario and won the ‘best world cuisine’ award in 2019 with his restaurant Ku Kum Kitchen, in Toronto, beating over 33,000 restaurants.
“It is an honour to support Chef Bill while he looks after his health,” says Chef Shawana. “Working with ITAC, ICAN has a solid strategic way forward and we remain committed to connecting, influencing and sharing community through genuine Indigenous food experiences across Canada.”
About the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is the lead organization tasked with growing the Indigenous tourism industry across the country. Inspired by a vision for a thriving Indigenous tourism economy sharing authentic, memorable and enriching experiences, ITAC develops relationships with groups and regions with similar mandates. By uniting the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada, ITAC works to enable collective support, product development, promotion and marketing of authentic Indigenous cultural tourism businesses in a respectful protocol. With Indigenous tourism outpacing Canadian tourism activity overall, and international demand for Indigenous experiences at an all-time high, ITAC recently updated its five-year plan. Additionally, ITAC just launched their Nations magazine, highlighting Indigenous people and experiences across the country.
To book packages and experiences travellers may visit www.IndigenousCanada.Travel.
For more information on ITAC visit www.IndigenousTourism.ca.
Deirdre Campbell, Beattie Tartan
Keith Henry, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada