Tuesday marks the launch of Canada’s first Indigenous-owned travel and tourism agency in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 Territory.
Co-founder Chris Maxfield says he and his friend Darrell Phillips had the idea for Indigeno Travel in 2015.
After Phillips died in 2017, Maxfield quit his day job to continue with their shared dream.
Phillips’ surviving spouse, part-owner and board member Charlene Phillips, says the agency’s doors are open to everyone.
“We want every Canadian to know, Indigeno is for non-Indigenous people and Indigenous people. No matter who you are or where you’re going, Indigeno is for all of us to use,” she says. “The story of Darrell and Chris is one of reconciliation; two longtime friends create a partnership with the goal to create Indigenous employment.”
Indigeno Travel’s focus is to help beat a path to hundreds of Indigenous tourism destinations.
According to Chief Dennis Meeches of Long Plain First Nation, the community is excited about the idea.
“It’s really the synergy of it all and being able to come together in partnership to create opportunities for all of our people, which is so important for us as Indigenous people,” he says. “I think to be able to create tourism within our Indigenous communities is paramount, it’s really, really that important.”
The organization also facilitates the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 92, which is geared toward businesses and workplaces, emphasizing the need for resolution in that sector.
“We want to acknowledge the many commitments we see across Canada from corporations and others
that embrace the TRC’s Calls to Action. Indigeno makes it easy to follow through on those commitments,” says Indigeno spokesperson Jessica Dumas, the former chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and president of Jessica Dumas Coaching & Training.
As of now, the agency has partnered with other corporations and plans to extend its reach.
“Combined, with our partnership with Great Canadian and Continental, this will make Indigeno one of the most competitive travel agencies in Canada, with 42 employees, and plans for further expansion across the country,” says Maxfield.