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Government of Canada Launches Major New Initiative to Support Indigenous Tourism

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GATINEAU, QUEBEC—Indigenous tourism helps advance economic reconciliation, while allowing the sharing of Indigenous cultures and histories across Canada. That’s why supporting its growth, in close partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, is one of the Government of Canada’s top priorities. One of the many ways in which the government invests in Indigenous tourism is through the Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF), a $20 million investment in both large and small Indigenous projects. The first stream of the ITF, the Micro and Small Business Stream, was launched in November 2023 and has already supported 145 projects across the country.

The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, just announced the launch of the ITF’s Signature Indigenous Tourism Experiences Stream (SITES). With $10 million in federal funding, SITES will support major Indigenous tourism projects, awarding contributions of $500,000 to $1.25 million. The funded projects will build on existing tourism destinations, many of which are located around significant cultural and natural sites in Indigenous communities. Minister Ferrada made the announcement as part of the 2024 Indigenous Prosperity Forum.

This funding, part of the broader $20 million ITF, will support key experiences that anchor tourism destinations in Indigenous communities, and it will help develop the infrastructure and services needed for tourism. The announcement underscores the government’s commitment to working with Indigenous leaders and communities to help grow Indigenous tourism.

The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) will deliver SITES. An umbrella organization for more than 50 Indigenous financial institutions, NACCA has over 35 years of experience in Indigenous economic development. NACCA’s successful track record, its robust network, and the significant contributions of its members—which have collectively facilitated $3.3 billion in loans to Indigenous businesses—make it an ideal partner to manage this Indigenous-led process.

SITES will support projects that make Indigenous tourism sites more accessible, encourage overnight stays and boost spending. It will favor initiatives that can anchor larger tourism destinations and attract other sources of financing. NACCA will also lead a committee, including representatives from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism organizations, to assist in identifying and evaluating projects. This committee will ensure that projects contribute positively to communities and can attract further investment. NACCA will oversee the application process, disburse funds, monitor project progress, and make all final funding decisions.

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