Indigenous Tourism Business Feature: Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre, Alberta
Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre, Alberta
From training a young person to guide visitors through ancient sites, to buying paddleboards, canoes or helping with down-payments on specialized snowmobiles for guests, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) Tourism Development Grant Program is making a huge difference for Indigenous tourism operators from coast to coast to coast.
Visitors who come to stay in one of two tipis at Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park near Lac La Biche, AB, will be extra cozy at night thanks to new Hudson’s Bay point bedding, throws and pillows.
The new bedding, paid for with a $5,000 grant, helps enhance the two Tipi Comfort Camping sites at the park, a partnership launched this spring between the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre and Alberta Parks.
“We now have two tipis in the provincial park — sites 16 and 17 — that people can book on the Alberta Parks reservations site,” says Donna Webster, executive director at the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre. “Together, as partners, we’ve developed the story of our friendship that we tell the people who visit the tipis.” The friendship centre also partners with the Beaver Lake Cree and Heart Lake First Nations and the Kikino and Buffalo Lake Métis Settlements.
To date, the friendship centre has invested a total of $22,000 in the camping experience. Alberta Parks has provided landscaping and shelters for each tipi, along with a kitchen, a deck with a picnic table and gas barbecue and a washroom with a shower.
An additional $2,000 grant purchased a Microsoft Surface Book laptop. “This gives us the ability to take high-quality photos and videos to promote our cultural experiences,” says Webster. Along with bannock and tea, the friendship centre offers medicine talks, singing, drumming and sharing stories from Cree and Métis culture. “We tell visitors about the richness and beauty we bring to this part of the country.”