Carry On: The value of Indigenous tourism

St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino in Cranbrook

Authentic First Nations experiences could be the future of the travel industry in B.C.


“Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in B.C., and a key economic driver,” says Brenda Baptiste, chair of Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC). In 2017, it contributed more to provincial GDP than any other primary industry, according to Destination BC.

A three-year ITBC study showed 33-percent growth in the number of Indigenous tourism businesses in B.C. from 2014 to 2017. Some 400 businesses generated $705 million and 7,400 full-time jobs. The study projects that 7.2 million visitors from the top five markets (Canada, Germany, U.K., U.S. and China) will engage in Indigenous tourism experiences in Canada over the next two years. Here are a few new B.C. spots to consider for your next corporate retreat, incentive travel or bleisure trip.

• Rechristened the Lund Resort at Klah Ah Men, the former Historic Lund Hotel is the first full-service Indigenous travel experience on the Sunshine Coast.

• Global bucket-list hot spot Haida Gwaii’s newest fly-in eco-lodge is Ocean House at Stads K’uns GawGa on its west coast, while new poles by master carvers Tim Boyko, Guujaaw and Garner Moody are highlights in Skidegate.

• St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino in Cranbrook hosts Indigenous Culture and Awareness Training for corporate groups, conducted by the Ktunaxa Nation.

• In Osoyoos, chef Murray McDonald reinvents Spirit Ridge’s restaurant as the Indigenous-inspired The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry (the name comes from the story of the four food chiefs of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation).

• West Vancouver’s Talaysay Tours runs Talking Trees walks decoding culturally important Coast Salish plants in Stanley Park, plus other Indigenous-grounded local nature experiences.

• Canoe journeys of the South Thompson River, an exploration of Coyote Rock and even a wine tasting are among the Shuswap-area offerings of new Indigenous tour provider Moccasin Trails.


Since Health Canada legalized cannabis extracts, topicals and edibles October 17, it’s worth remembering the rules for travellers.

• Within Canada:
If you meet the minimum age requirements for departure and arrival provinces, you can pack up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or the equivalent.

• Outside Canada:
Taking cannabis across international borders is illegal, even if you’re travelling to or from places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis (notably, some U.S. states—cannabis remains illegal under U.S. federal law).


In high-stakes work moments—a meeting or deal gone badly, a termination, a loss of composure—not everyone is blessed with a great boss or colleague to help guide them through. That’s especially true when you’re travelling for work. Enter Sphere, a new B.C.-born online personal coaching platform.

“Each new experience, decision, hard conversation, win and loss presents us with new information about ourselves and the world,” says founder and CEO Devon Brooks, the former co-founder of Blo hairstyling bars. The tricky thing, she says, is that no one coach, or guide, is the right fit for everyone all the time, which Sphere handles with a matching algorithm that pairs clients with vetted, trained coaches who suit their needs.

Though Brooks is harnessing technology for her own company, she believes that establishing the right tools, and the right boundaries, is crucial. “It’s not healthy to hear dings and pings all the time,” she says, noting that quiet, space and time are “essential for rejuvenating.” 

She recalls a business trip to New York, during which she got a call confirming a big business win while standing in front of the Museum of Modern Art. “I only had 35 minutes to spare, but I walked right in and it was magic,” Brooks says. “Enough time between meetings to re-energize and show up as my best self.”

When she’s away on business, the mother of two young children is “making every glorious second count.” She heard Diane von Fürstenberg say something similar at a gathering of female CEOs: Brooks asked her what she won’t compromise on at this stage in her life, and the answer was “leaving time for mystery.” While the fashion maven blocks time in her calendar for spontaneity, Brooks makes sure there are moments for “reflection and percolation”—and a mind-clearing run.


A wrinkle-free tip: If you visit the same business destinations often, don’t stress about packing suits and crisp shirts for every trip. Drop them at a local dry cleaner, then pick them up the next time you fly into town.