Celebrating the innovation and resilience of Indigenous tourism

Diana Frost of Colouring it Forward accepts the Leadership Award from awards sponsor Carmelle Hunka from YYC Calgary International Airport and event host Lance Cardinal at the CITE Awards Gala.

(ANNews) – Indigenous Tourism Alberta has announced the winners of its second annual awards gala at the ITA Gathering held at River Cree Resort and Casino on Enoch Cree Nation, Treaty 6 territory and Metis Region 4.

The awards gala celebrated Indigenous tourism excellence and best practices in four categories including Most Improved Business, which recognizes an Indigenous tourism business that has significantly improved its market readiness; Best Marketing Initiatives, awarded to an Indigenous tourism business or organization that has planned and activated an effective marketing campaign or program showing real results towards specific goals; the Leadership Award, recognizing a representative of an Indigenous business or organization who inspires those around them in the way they represent their culture with visitors; Partnership/Allyship Award, jointly awarded to an Indigenous tourism business or organization and an ally tourism business that has developed a new partnership approach toward a tourism experience and has demonstrated impact and influence within the Indigenous tourism industry that has led to the growth of Indigenous Tourism.

The full list of winners are:

Most Improved Business: Teepee Treats

Curtis Cardinal was born and raised in Northern Alberta, is a member of A Whitefish Lake First Nations, and is the owner of Tee Pee Treats. After a temporary closure, Curtis reopened in July 2022 to offer not only a take-out and delivery services, but a unique dining experience inside Edmonton’s new multidisciplinary art and music venue, CO*LAB. Teepee Treats has rebranded, built a new website, and developed new producers like their dry bannock and tea products, and has become a symbol of resilience within the Indigenous community.

Allyship Award: Pursuit Collection, Stoney Nakoda Nation and Moment Factory

Nightrise is the result of a collaboration between the Stoney Nakoda Nations, Pursuit Collection and Moment Factory. Nightrise is a multimedia, multi-sensory storytelling experience that shines the spotlight on the rich cultural history of the Stoney Nakoda Peoples. This experience takes place at the Banff Gondola, allowing guests from all across the country and other countries to authentically experience Stoney culture.

Nightrise tells the story of the mountain and its traditional name, as well as presenting words in the Stoney language to describe its wonders. The Stoney Nation, Pursuit Collection and Moment Factory signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commemorate their partnership in bringing the Nightrise experience to life, and Niterise will be expanding this year to welcome guests for 2022-23.

Best Marketing Initiatives: Mother Earth Essentials

Mother Earth Essentials was founded in order to share the nature-inspired teachings rooted in the plants of the Medicine Wheel. Over the past year, Mother Earth Essentials has rebranded their products, focused on new asset photography, completed website upgrades, and has worked with partners to help amplify their marketing efforts. Mother Earth Essentials opened their Edmonton location storefront, and has worked tirelessly on the rebrand of the company, to ensure the awareness of the new location

In late 2020, Carrie published her book Mother Earth Plants for Health & Beauty: Indigenous Plants, Traditions and Recipes with Eschia Books. It features recipes for teas, soap, bath products, balms, and lotions—all of which use wild edible and medicinal

plants that can be collected on the prairies. Since publishing, her book has made it on the Bestseller list on Read Alberta and was a finalist in the Trade Non-Fiction category for the Alberta Book Publishing Awards.

Leadership Award: Diana Frost (Colouring it Forward)

Diana is the leader of a social enterprise including an Indigenous business called Colouring It Forward Inc. and a not-for-profit organization called CIF Reconciliation Society (CIFRS). Diana collaborates with Indigenous Artists and Elders to produce authentic books, cards, gift boxes and journals to tell the other side of the story of Indigenous people — of hope and of a different future. Colouring It Forward makes donations from their sales to Indigenous social projects, while CIF Reconciliation Society has organized an annual Orange Shirt Day Walk and arts event since 2018, and also has collaborated with numerous non-Indigenous organizations on Indigenous art exhibits to share artists views on truth and reconciliation. In the past year, Diana partnered with the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth for its annual Pokaiks The Children Orange Shirt Day event which had its largest attendance yet of 6000+ people.

“All of our nominees are people and businesses that inspire, lead and educate. They’re powerful examples of the strength of Indigenous tourism in Alberta and they represent their culture to visitors and guests in authentic and passionate ways,” said CEO of Indigenous Tourism Alberta Shae Bird. “Over the last year we have seen significant interest from industry partners looking to expand their knowledge of Indigenous culture. This year’s CITE Award nominees are members who are not only committed to excellence in their own business, but are enthusiastic about educating guests, partners, allies and the industry as a whole.”

The three-day event provided an opportunity for attendees to build meaningful relationships with more than 300 delegates including Indigenous tourism leaders, tourism operators, travel trade, media and other key organizations. Together attendees shared their collective knowledge and continued to contribute to the success of Alberta’s rapidly growing Indigenous tourism industry.

In partnership with industry leaders, ITA organized a series of keynote speakers, panel discussions, and inspiring sessions with Indigenous thought-leaders, community Elders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous industry experts, economic development officers and other visionary voices to help stakeholders develop more economic opportunities in the industry sector.

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