Indigenous Tourism Business Feature: Turtle Lodge, Manitoba
Turtle Lodge International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness, at the Sagkeeng First Nation on the southern tip of Lake Winnipeg, honours the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples. The turtle is a symbol of truth and for 15 years, people have gathered at the lodge for ceremonies and other events intended to share ancient knowledge and sacred teachings of the Anishinabe.
Recently the lodge consulted with elders to discuss how to broaden the reach and disseminate more of their wisdom. “We want to increase knowledge and figure out how to share it with people. But we had to come up with a strategy on how to do that,” says Barry Mathers, who was hired by the lodge to facilitate the project. “Within our culture you can’t sell culture you can’t sell traditional teachings.”
Part of the grant, $4000, was for “elder engagement”—bringing dozens of elders to the lodge from all over the region to get their ideas, and their permission to extend the lodge’s work. “We had several meetings at Turtle Lodge where we would go into ceremony to accomplish this,” he says.
The other part of the grant, $3,000, was to create and print promotional materials to attract people to Turtle Lodge and experience its vision of bringing healing to people and peace to the world. “Elders have to set the path,” says Mather. “An elder has the same amount of knowledge and experience as a full tenured professor in a university.”