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Indigenous tourism organization receives provincial accolade

Wikwemikong Tourism received inaugural Indigenous tourism award
Wiikwemkoong’s authentic Indigenous experiences earned the community the 2018 Indigenous Tourism Award during the Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence. (Wikwemikong Tourism photo)

Wikwemikong Tourism is the recipient of the 2018 Indigenous Tourism Award, jointly presented by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Destination Ontario, the Culinary Tourism Alliance, and Attractions Ontario.

The organization, based out of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, received the accolade during the 2018 Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence, held in Windsor Oct. 23-24.

This marks the inaugural year for the Indigenous Tourism Award of Excellence, which “recognizes an organization, individual or experience that has demonstrated a commitment to the development and promotion of authentic, cultural Indigenous experiences for visitors to Ontario.”

“It’s a tremendous honour to be recognized for the work we are doing,” Wiikwemkoong’s tourism manager Luke Wassegijig said in a community news release. “We have come a long way to build our brand, and we couldn’t have done it without our team and strong leadership that supports our vision.”

The community said it has, since 2008, been building a foundation for sustainable tourism development through their territory in the Manitoulin Island and Killarney region.

Attractions of note include cultural tours, the Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival, the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail, the annual ice fishing derby, and Point Grondine Park, which have become key economic drivers for the community.

“Because of our tourism strategy, we have been moving forward in the industry by developing our infrastructure, marketing/branding concepts, products, and promoting our cultural events,” Wiikwemkoong Chief Duke Peltier said in the release.

“It is a great honour to have Wiikwemkoong recognized for its successes through the Indigenous Tourism Award.”

Also from Northern Ontario, J.J. Hilsinger, who built the Water Tower Inn in Sault Ste. Marie, among other achievements, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.