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Marisela Amador, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Last month, Kahnawake Tourism conducted a survey that will help the development of tourism activities in the community.

In fact, the team at Kahnawake Tourism has been working for months on a three-year strategic and marketing plan. Strategic planning sessions have already taken place with private businesses, organizations and the youth.

“We are trying to find the different areas that we can develop. Looking at the different markets that we can tap into and maybe create specific products that are directly related to those markets,” said Kimberly Cross, Tourism Development agent at Kahnawake Tourism.

Cross explained that the purpose of the survey was to find out how the community feels about tourism in Kahnawake and how to move forward with the expansion of the industry in a manner that would be acceptable to Kahnawa’kehró:non.

She also said that as part of the larger plan, Kahnawake Tourism is collaborating with the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center (KOR) and the Turtle Island Theatre Company on their new project.

The project consists of constructing a new state-of-the-art cultural centre that would also house a museum and theatre. The construction is estimated to take three to four years to complete. “Kahnawake Tourism will help with the accepting and welcoming of tourists to the new cultural village hub,” said Cross.

“And planning their visits and doing the tourism aspect of things so that KOR can focus on community programming and language and culture revitalization.”

Over the past eight years, Kahnawake Tourism has made Kahnawake a destination for different types of visitors. They have also created a lot of networks and partnerships. Additionally, they have worked with local organizations like the National Shrine of the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and KOR to establish their tours and attractions.

“We already receive tourists coming during the summer months mostly. And that is why we are asking the community if they are okay with buses coming into the heart of Kahnawake, or do they prefer them only on the outskirts, like on the highways?”

The agent said that once the COVID-19 situation calms down, Kahnawake Tourism will be working on getting back their clientele as well as attracting new visitors.

Furthermore, Cross said that through their strategic planning sessions, they realized that the community needs a lot of education when it comes to tourism.

“Many people are currently unaware that we have a tourism office and our different projects. The key is education for our own people and for visitors who want to come and visit us, but also who want to learn about Indigenous peoples, culture and history.

Cross said that the aspect of reconciliation has also been integrated into the three-year strategic plan.

“It will all be looked at and compiled together, and we are going to see what the common themes are, things that stand out, what are some of the concerns that people have.”

According to Cross, the business community in Kahnawake is very supportive of tourism since the non-local clientele is a significant portion of their revenue. Moreover, she said that the different sectors are very interested in the possibility of creating their own role in the tourism industry.

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