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Wiky tourism manager celebrated for industry contributions

Luke Wassegijig earns leadership award from Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
Luke Wassegijig, manager of Wikwemikong Tourism, is an award winner from the 2023 International Indigenous Tourism Conference.

Luke Wassegijig, the manager of Wikwemikong Tourism in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, is a national award winner for his contributions to the tourism industry.

Wassegijig won the Original Original Award for Exceptional Industry Leadership from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) during its 10th International Indigenous Tourism Conference, held in Treaty 1 Territory and the Homeland of the Red River Métis (Winnipeg) on March 9.

Wassegijig was one of nine winners from across Canada.

“The winners represent an impressive and diverse group of Indigenous operators from coast to coast to coast that have successfully weathered several tough years — and continue to lead and thrive,” Keith Henry, ITAC's CEO and president, said in a news release announcing the winners.

“Each winner and finalist should be incredibly proud of their contribution to the ongoing success and growth of our industry.”

Wassegijig's award recognizes a business or organization that demonstrates excellence in all aspects of its operation, including marketing, customer reviews, revenue generation, low staff turnover, and repeat customers.

Wikwemikong Tourism offers a number of visitor experiences, including interpretive tours, trail hikes, Indigenous food tastings, paddling excursions, and more.

The organization also operates Point Grondine Park, an 18,000-acre area of wilderness east of Killarney Provincial Park, where visitors can camp, hike, paddle, and enjoy cultural excursions.

In its synopsis, ITAC commended Wassegijig and Wikwemikong Tourism for offering “authentic Indigenous experiences that reflect the cultural lifestyles and traditions of the Anishnaabek people of the Three Fires Confederacy — Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomi.

“By transforming its operations and enhancing its products to meet visitor demand and promote cultural sustainability through its tour programs, Wikwemikong Tourism and Luke Wassegijig continue to be industry leaders,” ITAC said.

Wassegijig and Wikwemikong Tourism have been celebrated for their work a number of times over the years.

In 2017, Wassegijig was named a Tourism Champion at the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit, and a year later, Wikwemikong Tourism received the inaugural Indigenous Tourism Award of Excellence from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

In 2019,  ITAC bestowed Wikwemikong Tourism the Indigenous Adventure Award during that year’s conference.