Perspectives in Aboriginal Tourism

In August, I was approached by the acting principal of Unama'ki College to teach a course for CANDO, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. They would be holding their annual conference in Membertou in October and wanted to provide a training opportunity that would satisfy one of the competency requirements in their certificate program. Specifically, they were interested in having compentency 7 — Contemporary Aboriginal Economic Development Approaches and Issues — addressed. We decided that a course on cultural tourism would be appropriate and "Perspectives in Aboriginal Tourism" was born.

It's hard to believe that it's now November. CANDO members who registered for the course have completed the in-class portion of the course and are already completing the assignments via Moodle. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week (October 23-24, 2012), we gathered in Kluskap D at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre for an introduction to tourism niches and trends, issues in tourism development, the benefits and challenges of tourism development, and a few examples across the country. As always, the issue of authenticity and exactly what that means to different people produced a great deal of discussion. We also had the opportunity to learn about Eskasoni Cultural Journeys from Laura Prosper. Following an overview of the SWOT analysis method they will use in their final projects for the course, we broke into small groups and conducted a mini SWOT analysis for both Eskasoni Cultural Journeys and the Membertou Heritage Park.

Over the next 7 or 8 weeks, we'll be engaged via the internet and Skype to complete course requirements. I'm looking forward to reading the SWOT analysis for each student's home community. I expect that I will learn a great deal from them.