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As members of Alberta’s vibrant tourism industry, each of us has opportunities to build respectful relationships with Indigenous communities and business operators in our everyday interactions.  

Here are five simple tips submitted by the Travel Alberta community to honour and respect Indigenous Peoples, on National Indigenous Peoples Day and every day. 

To learn more about creating meaningful and respectful relationships with Indigenous tour operators, please visit Indigenous Tourism Alberta’s Toolkit on this topic.  

  1. Say hello 

Adelle from Travel Alberta’s Content team shared a moment that stuck with her: An Indigenous presenter greeted an audience in English, then asked if anyone could greet him in his own language. Nobody could. 

“The first thing we learn when travelling somewhere is how to say hello,” Adelle reflects. “It’s crazy how many Canadians can say hello in German, Italian, Spanish... but not in languages that are native to our own country.” 

2. Take time to connect 

When Alex was sent to interview Cree dancer Patrick Mitsuing (pictured in the page banner) before his February Superbowl performance, the two were able to connect before getting down to business.  

“We sat down for lunch and he opened up,” Alex says. “Simple gestures, like an invitation to connect over a meal, can allow a two-way conversation and a meaningful connection.” 

In their Toolkit for working with ITA and its members, Indigenous Tourism Alberta recommends investing significant time in actively listening to communities and businesses to build meaningful, respectful relationships. “Through listening to and sharing stories we uncover not what makes us different, but reveal shared, cross-cultural values and human experiences.” 

3. Self-educate 

When advising media about working effectively with Indigenous tour operators, Lysandra from Indigenous Tourism Alberta recommends that writers research the history themselves, rather than asking an Indigenous Person to explain.  

“Learn about the Indian Act, Treaties and Treaty responsibilities, Genocide of the Buffalo, Reservation systems, the Red and White paper,” she advises. “This will enrich your learning and create a safe space for the Indigenous operator to not have to explain these parts of history, which takes emotional energy for them.” 

4. Acknowledge your relationship with the land 

Acknowledgement of the land is a traditional custom of Indigenous people when welcoming outsiders onto their land and into their homes. To build respectful relationships, acknowledging the land is an important part of reconciliation.  

Brenda Holder, owner of Mahikan Trails, enjoys seeing visitors personally relate to the land in her work as an Indigenous tour operator. “By teaching them these amazing resources that are found on the land, it draws a comparison between people and how they relate to the land in their own specific way as well," Brenda explains. 

A land acknowledgement can be more than just a checkbox. Lysandra advises, “A land acknowledgement should come from a place of the heart and spirit. Don’t copy and paste. Do your homework. Be genuine and reflect, take your time.”  

Adelle thinks about ways to make a land acknowledgement more personal, noting, “you can include where you came from and how you came to be on this land. That way it can be a way to check in with your own story and experience.”  

5. Bring a spirit of fun 

There is often an expectation or assumption that conversations and experiences of Indigenous cultures will be serious.  

Alex recalls attending a cultural sensitivity workshop where one Indigenous presenter remarked, “People are always so serious in these workshops. We’re not always solemn. My people love laughter; we like to be dramatic!” It brought some levity to the experience and helped everyone to be more present. 

While sharing culture is personal and important, an Indigenous experience will rarely come without a dose of humor and good spirit. The whole experience is rooted in kindness, heartwarming moments and good energy, so bring your whole self and be prepared to enjoy. 


Content adapted from conversations with Travel Alberta and Indigenous Tourism Alberta community members and the Toolkit for working with ITA and its members. 


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