Indigenous Tourism Association of Ontario & Thunder Bay CEDC sign Memorandum of Understanding

June 7, 2021 – Yesterday, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Ontario (ITO) and the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) with Tourism Thunder Bay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support the growth of indigenous tourism in the Northwest region.

“Tourism Thunder Bay is proud to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with Indigenous Tourism Ontario to commit to collaboration and mutual support of developing and promoting Indigenous tourism in our area,” according to Paul Pepe, Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay. “Indigenous Tourism Ontario is a leader in advancing the economic and cultural opportunities of Indigenous tourism, and we look forward to being a supportive advocate and partner with them.”

The MOU will see both organizations work together in efforts to establish Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario as a global hub for Indigenous education, business best practices, and the continuation of efforts to build strong Indigenous partnerships within the industry. The MOU will also ensure Indigenous tourism is provided support through the economy recovery post-COVID-19. 

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly hit the tourism industry the hardest. Our partnership with ITO is just one measure of promoting a strong recovery for the Indigenous tourism industry,” says Eric Zakrewski, CEO, Thunder Bay CEDC. “Our Board of Directors has placed a high priority on establishing partnerships with Indigenous organizations. This MOU reinforces the CEDC’s vision and commitment to supporting the growth of our local Indigenous tourism economy”

Leveraging Tourism Thunder Bay platforms and marketing efforts, ITO will provide expertise and linkages to the Indigenous tourism industry. As the expert in Indigenous Tourism, ITO aims to support Indigenous tourism products, including Culinary tourism products, through their initiatives and participate in partner-led regional initiatives. Both Tourism Thunder Bay and ITO will work together to raise awareness and conduct presentations for regional stakeholders on the topic of ITO to further support indigenous tourism in Northern Ontario.

“Our ITO team is extremely excited to formalize a relationship with one more important partner. Supporting the growth of Indigenous tourism benefits all Ontarians and Canadians while allowing Indigenous people to tell their story on their terms,” says Kevin Eshkawkogan, President & Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Tourism Ontario. “Indigenous tourism is critical to see the renewal, rejuvenation, and future growth of the Ontario tourism industry. Working together in a mutually beneficial manner will see us collectively prosper economically, socially, and culturally.”

Both parties agree to work together based on shared values outlined below:

  • Honesty – both parties shall disclose intent
  • Wisdom – both parties will rely on each other to develop solutions that maximize results
  • Truth – both parties will speak the truth and work through problems together
  • Love – both parties will keep the spirit of Friendship and focus objectives from a place of kindness by protecting the interests at the heart for each organization
  • Respect – both parties will respect each other’s business and revenue model
  • Courage – both parties will promise to uphold any products developed or activities undertaken to the highest integrity
  • Humility – both parties will recognize we the relationship is one of many in the larger ecosystem

ITO Background:

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Ontario (ITO) is a provincial non-for-profit and membership association which focuses on creating partnerships between associations, organizations, government departments, and industry leaders from across Ontario and Canada to support the growth of Indigenous tourism in Ontario and beyond.

ITO represents the largest Indigenous tourism sector in Canada which contributed over 550 Indigenous tourism businesses contributing over $622 Million and almost 13,000 jobs to the Ontario economy pre-pandemic. ITO has a focus to improve the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous people through tourism development.

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