The Ontario government is providing $ 1 million to launch a traveling exhibit promoting Indigenous culture and innovation.
The financial support, which was announced on September 24, will be a joint venture between Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) and Science North of Sudbury, Northern Ontario’s largest tourist attraction.
Science North is currently home to an Indigenous Ingenuity Exhibit, which showcases historical and modern aspects of Indigenous culture and innovation.
The Indigenous Ingenuity exhibition, a collaboration between ITO and Science North, will be on display at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery for the coming winter months.
And now, thanks to last Friday’s funding announcement, ITO Director General Kevin Eshkawkogan has said that a personalized traveling exhibit on Indigenous ingenuity will be developed. It will feature both educational and interactive exhibits.
“In the spring, we’ll start bringing it to 50 communities,” Eshkawkogan said. “It’s basically all of the First Nations in northern Ontario.
Eshkawkogan said there is a five-year plan for the traveling exhibit to visit First Nations communities. The exact timing of these visits has not yet been determined.
But Eshkawkogan believes an ideal partnership has been established.
“Science North’s goal is to make science shine,” he said. “And we know Aboriginal tourism better than anyone. ”
Science North’s mandate is to deliver a science and learning program throughout Northern Ontario and is an agency of the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
Eshkawkogan said the traveling exhibit on Indigenous ingenuity will help some Indigenous business tourism operators who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s ideas like this that will get us out of there,” he said.
One of the goals of the traveling exhibit is to have local Indigenous tourism business operators showcase themselves and eventually create some type of programming or event.
Eshkawkogan said the length of time that the traveling exhibit will stay in each community will vary.
“For some communities, it will be there for a week,” he said. “And for other communities, it could be like a weekend or a special event.”
Eshkawkogan is convinced that the exhibition will be a success.
“It will inspire young people to go into science,” he said. “And our goal is to get these people to develop Indigenous experiences alongside that.
Guy Labine, CEO of Science North, believes the traveling exhibit will have a vital role.
“This is the largest initiative to bring Indigenous content to visitors in Science North’s history,” he said. “This is an important step in deepening our engagement and partnerships with Indigenous organizations to increase visitor access to authentic scientific and cultural experiences.
The government is financially supporting this project through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
The NOHFC provides money to various businesses in northern Ontario that drive recovery, job creation, skills development and growth.
The traveling exhibit is expected to create eight new full-time jobs. And the funding will also help retain another 20 full-time positions.
Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs who is also Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, said his government recognizes the importance of supporting stakeholders in the tourism industry.
“Before COVID-19, we had a vibrant tourism sector here in the north, so it’s crucial that we look at ways to support our local Indigenous and northern attractions during this time of recovery and adjustment,” he said. declared. “(The) investment contributes directly to the sustainability of Science North and our Indigenous and northern tourism industries. ”
Rickford also said the traveling exhibit will provide a valuable service.
“I invite everyone to take this opportunity to learn more about Indigenous peoples and how their contributions and achievements have shaped our province and our country for the better,” he said. “As we learn more about the diverse Indigenous cultures of Ontario and Canada, we continue to strengthen our relationships with Indigenous peoples. Educational initiatives like this are essential to advance reconciliation.
Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, also believes the traveling exhibit will help strengthen the province’s Indigenous tourism industry.
“Indigenous tourism in Ontario offers unique opportunities to experience Indigenous heritage and culture through art, nature and other immersive experiences,” she said.