January 28, 2020, Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Vancouver, BC — Developing a set of meaningful wellness indicators for Indigenous communities to proactively manage the positive and negative impacts of Indigenous tourism’s rapid growth is a priority for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), says Keith Henry, President and CEO.

While the increased global demand for Indigenous tourism is seen by many as positive, this rapid growth threatens to not only overwhelm Indigenous operators but also the often fragile communities on whose land the experiences are hosted.

Working with Marion Joppe, Professor at the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph, along with a team of diverse researchers, Henry is supporting a study which will undertake critical analysis of the existing understanding of and research on indicators of quality of life, wellness, and happiness for Indigenous communities across the country.

“We now understand that a singular focus on economic indicators is doing our Indigenous communities a disservice,” says Henry. “We need to better understand the different views Indigenous communities have on what it means to thrive and proactively manage the impacts – both positive and negative – of tourism and its rapid expansion.”

Once the study is complete in 2021, a wellness index will be developed in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples from across Canada that moves beyond GDP as a measure of their social progress and well-being.