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Deadline looms for Indigenous tourism funding

Applications for Skode Program will be accepted until Feb. 2
Walk Among the Trees, a Sault Ste. Marie company that offers walking tours in nature, was a Skode Program winner in 2023.

Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs, businesses, and organizations have just a few days left to apply for funding that could help their ideas come to fruition.

The application window is closing to apply for the fourth edition of the Skode Program — pronounced Shkoh-deh and meaning "fire” — which is an initiative of Indigenous Tourism Ontario and the Tourism Innovation Lab.

It's geared toward entrepreneurs and organizations that have a unique idea for tourism experiences that authentically represent, celebrate and promote Indigenous culture, heritage, language, cuisine and communities in Ontario.

"With this new edition of the Skode Program, we are excited to support continued tourism innovation, shed light on different career paths, and inspire Indigenous youth to follow their passions,” said  Kevin Eshkawkogan, president and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario, in a news release announcing the funding last fall.

Six winners — three from Northern Ontario and three from southern Ontario — will be chosen from applicants.

Recipients will receive a $5,000 non-repayable financial contribution and three months of mentorship.

All six winners will then be invited to a provincewide pitch session where they'll present their tourism ideas to a judging panel of Indigenous tourism leaders, entrepreneurs and partner representatives for a chance to win a grand prize.

"We are thrilled to announce this fourth round of the Skode Program in collaboration with Indigenous Tourism Ontario,” Justin Lafontaine, program lead for the Tourism Innovation Lab, said in the release.

“Supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs through mentorships and financial contributions will advance this growing sector and create exciting new Indigenous-led tourism experiences in Ontario."

Eligibility criteria and application information are available here.