Quinton Crow Shoe named 2013 Alto Ambassador
The Alberta Tourism (Alto) Awards Committee has named Quinton Crow Shoe, marketing and events coordinator at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, as the 2013 Alto Ambassador, recognizing him as an exceptional Albertan who has made an outstanding contribution to the province’s tourism industry.
As a young boy, Quinton Crow Shoe watched cars speed through his community on the Piikani Nation reserve and he’d wonder how he could coax them to stop and learn more about his people. This early desire to share his culture led to a lifetime of creating authentic aboriginal experiences in Alberta for tourists from around the globe.
As marketing and events coordinator at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Crow Shoe tells the story of one of the world’s oldest and best preserved buffalo hunting sites to 65,000 visitors a year. More than 2.5 million tourists have visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site since it opened in 1987.
“Quinton has a cross-cultural passion for fostering aboriginal tourism growth in Alberta, creating authentic, sustainable products, programs, services and experiences, and is recognized as a leader within the international travel trade industry,” says Terri Cameron, chair of the 2013 Alto Awards Committee. “He embodies all that an Alto Ambassador is known for and is an outstanding role model.”
For more than three decades, Crow Shoe, 50, has been an ambassador for First Nations, sometimes performing and more recently promoting native drumming, dance and arts and crafts. For 17 years, he was employed with the Napi Friendship Centre in Pincher Creek. In 2008, he was appointed by the Piikani Nation Chief and Council to be the chairperson for the Piikani Youth Education Foundation to further education opportunities for youth. He has organized countless powwows and sports tournaments, served on numerous boards and committees, and travelled the world to promote Alberta as a world-class destination.
It was a poignant moment when Crow Shoe joined the team at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump eight years ago. His late grandfather, Joe Crow Shoe Sr., recipient of the Order of Canada, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award and two honorary doctorates, had been instrumental in the development of the site and interpretive centre.
“My grandfather helped shape and mold me into who I have become today, and he taught me today’s warriors need to walk in both worlds.” Crow Shoe applies these lessons at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, where he coordinates special events, oversees site marketing and represents the attraction at many tourism functions, including a travel trade event last year in London, U.K.
He coordinated both the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay and the 2011 Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion 25th anniversary tour through the site, spearheads a collaborative program at the Indian Village during the Calgary Stampede and, with his team, won a 2012 Travel Alberta Alto Award for sustainable tourism. He is the master of ceremonies for many events throughout the region as well as weekly native drumming and dancing performances at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which have generated the highest daily visitor records in the last three years.
Crow Shoe works closely with partners such as the town of Fort Macleod, whose 100th anniversary event increased visitation by 11 per cent. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump now has the strongest group tour business of all of Alberta Culture’s historic sites and museums.
“Quinton has earned the respect of Albertans because he speaks from the heart and shares a vision that positions First Nations in a positive and productive manner,” says Duncan Daniels of the Heritage Division of Alberta Culture.
Crow Shoe’s work may be steeped in history, but as a marketer, he embraces social media. “People aren’t just going to your website; they’re going to the blogs so that they can see what other people are saying about your site.” He predicts the demand for aboriginal tourism will continue to grow, but that a well-organized strategy is needed to get more products on stream. “We need to find ways to help communities learn how they can tap into the tourism industry and prosper.”
He hopes his Alto Ambassador award will encourage other First Nations to see the potential in tourism. “This award is a huge honour and one that I hope inspires others.”
When he’s not working or volunteering, Crow Shoe plays golf, slo pitch and hockey, often with his family – wife Debby, children Nikea, Jessica, Andrea and Carlos and five grandchildren.
He feels blessed to be part of Alberta’s tourism community. “I get to come to work on a daily basis at a sacred place in the presence of my ancestors. I get to meet people from all over the world and tell them about my culture and history. I learn something new every day.”
The Alto Ambassador award, sponsored by the Calgary Airport Authority, will be presented to Quinton Crow Shoe at the Alto Awards gala on October 28, in conjunction with the 13th annual Travel Alberta Industry Conference in Banff, October 27-29, 2013. Alto Awards in nine other categories will also be presented at the gala.
Click here for more information on the Alto Awards.
Roberta Macleod – Communications Specialist, Travel Alberta