A Halifax university is set to become the first in Canada to offer an Indigenous tourism program. Mount Saint Vincent University is partnering with Indigenous communities across Atlantic Canada to create an Indigenous cohort tourism education program.
The federal government is providing nearly $2-million to the Kinu Tourism Program.
“The big vision is we want people to travel to Nova Scotia and when they travel here they will know this is Mi’kmaq traditional territory,” said Robert Bernard, executive director with the Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network.
Across the country, Indigenous tourism is growing. In some areas, it’s even outpacing traditional tourism growth, though Bernard said Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia are lagging behind.
“We have a lot of investments that need to be made, a lot of research that needs to be done, but also a lot of cross cultural capacity that needs to be shared.”
The program is under development and the first students will begin their studies in September 2024.
“There’s a real demand for authentic experiences and one of the things that our Indigenous tourism operators have identified they need is training,” said Peter Mombourquette, chair of the Mount Saint Vincent’s department of business and tourism.
The expectation is that the program will attract an indigenous student cohort, who will study alongside their non-Indigenous peers.
“One of the goals of reconciliation is having students learn from one another and learn collectively together and we think this program will do that,” Mombourquette said.