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Cultural destination

Mi’kmaq community developing social enterprise tourism


By Amy Jones

Yaffle.ca is Memorial’s online connecting tool.

One of its most significant jobs is to provide a way for people from outside Memorial to ask for research help. With hundreds of community-suggested opportunities to choose from, your next project is just a click away. Here’s one:

The opportunity

Flat Bay is a self-governed Mi’kmaq community on the west coast of the island.

With a population that is 98 per cent self-identified as Mi’kmaq, the community was incorporated in 1972 as No’kmaq Village, or Flat Bay Band Inc.

In partnership with the Bay St. George Cultural Revival Committee, the band has hosted one of the largest powwows in Atlantic Canada for the last 11 years, the Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Powwowwelcoming between 8,000-10,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

This success has led visitors to look for longer term, year-round vacation options that would extend their experiences of Mi’kmaq culture and traditional ways of life.

Ice fishing for smelt during a pilot program.
A pilot program with local tourism operator Abadak Wilderness Adventures in Bay St. George.
Photo: Abadak Wilderness Adventures

To further develop tourism assets and promote them to potential visitors, the band has created Project Sunset, a social enterprise that will invest revenue back into the community in the form of cultural services and social and economic development initiatives.

Ivan White has been hired as the tourism development and marketing officer to help develop this project. He says the main focus is to meet the needs of visitors and highlight the unique tourism experiences the band can offer.

“Visitors want innovative and authentic experiences, and we want to partner with local people to help build capacity.” — Ivan White

“We want to provide itinerary packages to guests for all times of the year, which could encompass traditional activities and events that already happen, but also include new products and experiences,” he said.

“Visitors want innovative and authentic experiences, and we want to partner with local people to help build capacity to meet visitor needs and maximize economic return.”

The project

The band recently ran a pilot program with local tourism operator, Abadak Wilderness Adventures, which included the experiences of ice fishing for smelt and snaring rabbits.

“From the feedback we have gathered, it seems this initiative went very well,” said Mr. White.

During a pilot program with a local tourism operator.
During a pilot program with a local tourism operator.
Photo: Abadak Wilderness Adventures

“The powwow has been such an excellent way to share our community and culture with visitors, but we also want to support activities such as this to show people what Flat Bay is like the other 363 days of the year.”

The band is in the process of developing a destination marketing plan to help assess current tourism resources, outline potential opportunities, seek partnerships and build funding relationships.

Mr. White is hoping Memorial could become involved in the necessary research that will be needed to complete this plan and assess the feasibility of Flat Bay as a Mi’kmaq tourism destination.

The project leads are also interested in any other type of research or assistance Memorial could provide related to tourism or social enterprise development.

Find out more about this project here.

Interested in learning more about this project? The Harris Centre’s co-ordinator of knowledge mobilization can also tell you more. Email Amy Jones or call her at 709-864-6115.


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