For the first time ever, an official representative of the Lheidli Tenneh First Nation has joined the board of Tourism Prince George Society (TPGS), in Prince George, British Columbia. Ms. Rena Zatorski has been appointed by the Lheidli Tenneh First Nation to represent on the board of TPGS as a director per April 2019.
According to Tourism Prince George mandate, this seat on the TPGS has been created just recently and will be a permanent fixture for the Lheidli Tenneh First Nation as long as TPG exists in its current form. The Lheidli Tenneh are "in charge" to appoint that specific seat on Tourism Prince George Board of Directors for their organization.
Everybody involved is excited about this collaboration between the Lheidli Tenneh and Tourism Prince George, a proud new initiatve of the City of Prince George. The overall plan is to develop unforgettable experiences in the context of many aspects of the Indigenous culture for travelers visiting the region from all over the world.
"People traveling as tourists are very interested in Canada's Indigenous culture, and there are so many things that can be done to cater to that," says Elke Hierl-Steinbauer, TPGS board member.
"With this new collaboration and upcoming projects that are already being worked on there are many fantastic opportunities to develop opportunities to showcase the rich local and regional Indigenous history and culture from the source, our local and regional Bands."
Lleidli Tenneh and the TPGS have agreed to a 10-year program to develop an Indigenous product that runs the gamut of cultural expression and provides highly desirable experiences. As it stands today, everything is in place including insights into history (through artefacts and sites), museums, current events (like National Indigenous Peoples Day), music festivals, feature presentations of traditional dance, songs, and stories, food, and trekking through the lands and waters of Northern British Columbia, Canada.
Tying the Tourism Prince George brand together with these multiple streams of interest has been a goal of the TPGS board for quite some time. "First thing on our agenda is to hire a person on salary who is qualified to identify markets, someone who can brand products that appeal to markets for tourists from all over the world," says Hierl-Steinbauer. "International tourism is very exciting for Prince George, and Tourism Prince George has a strategy to raise the awareness of the centrally located city in Northern B.C., based on existing and potential Indigenous tourism products."
Another initiative of the TPGS board involves an art project showcasing Indigenous artists residing in Prince George. "We need the cultural development in the city, and the Indigenous people offer an appealing attraction to the world. The attraction is sitting in place and the people behind these Indigenous tourism initiatives are very enthusiastic about joining with Tourism Prince George and regional tourism bodies to promote their products."
Rena Zatorski, who works for the Lheidli Tenneh First Nation, happens to be the first standing member of the local tourism board to represent the Indigenous leadership to the municipality. Tourism Prince George implemented this joint effort in April, 2019. "This s wonderful news, it is groundbreaking ... we are just getting started, but this will be amazing." says Hierl-Steinbauer.
The program will be aiming at being 'local and regional,' looking to work with other indigenous communities, for example, Burns Lake, Ksan Cultural Village in Old Hazelton, and Nisga'a Territory's amazing lava lake, a massive remnant left by a volcano in the 1800s. "An interpretive centre in a traditional Nisga'a longhouse informs visitors about the Nisga'a legend that accounts for the lava as well as geological causes." [Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisga%27a_Memorial_Lava_Bed_Provincial_Park]
"We have in mind a corridor of Indigenous tourism in a 10-year project. We are excited on the Tourism Prince George board and so are the First Nation tourism operators in the city and region," says Hierl-Steinbauer. "We've been wanting to do this for years. I've been here for 20 years, and now it's happening," which should make the upcoming decade of the 2020s very exciting indeed for the Northern B.C. city of 80,000.
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