Wikwemikong Cultural Festival wins provincial Indigenous tourism award

The Wikwemikong Annual Cultural Festival received the Indigenous Tourism Award at the 2019 Ontario Awards of Excellence. In photo, from left to right, are two representatives of Tourism Ontario, Kevin Wassegijig, Director of Operations for Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, Sheena Wassegijig, cultural events coordinator, Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier, Luke Wassegijig, manager of Wikwemikong Tourism and Kevin Eshkawkogan Indigenous Tourism Ontario.

COLLINGWOOD – The Wikwemikong Annual Cultural Festival received a prestigious Indigenous Tourism Award at the 2019 Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence. The best of the best in Ontario were celebrated at the annual Ontario tourism awards of excellence gala held October 30 in Collingwood. These awards recognize tourism industry successes by honouring individuals and businesses that have made significant contributions to Ontario’s tourism industry.

The Wikwemikong Annual Cultural Festival, dubbed the largest and longest running festival in North Eastern America, is one of Manitoulin Island’s premier summer events and increases tourism in the community. The event includes Indigenous championship singing and dancing, authentic Indigenous foods and crafts, and promoting Indigenous art and music. This event is exclusive to Indigenous vendors as a way to promote Indigenous entrepreneurism and to ensure the authenticity of goods sold. The festival hosts an interactive cultural pavilion with a series of workshops throughout the three days.

“I think from the Wikwemikong Tourism point of view this is a real honour to see this event being recognized by the mainstream and see the economic benefits this event brings to Manitoulin Island,” stated Luke Wassegijig, manager for Wikwemikong Tourism. “It is a well deserved recognition for the event for the Wiikwemkoong Heritage organization and all those who  host the event.”

“Congratulations to all winners of this year’s Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence! The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is immensely proud to acknowledge the organizations, businesses and individuals who make it possible to represent Ontario as a destination of choice. Your outstanding work does not go unnoticed and we are ecstatic to bring the industry together to celebrate your achievements,” said Beth Potter, president and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), in a release.

Troy Young, CEO of Attractions Ontario said, “Ontario’s Choice awards recipients are voted on by consumers and visitors to Ontario. With a wide variety of attractions that participated this year, each attraction that was voted for deserves accolades. There were a total of eight categories to vote for, and the top three finalists honoured received the most votes across all categories. Big congratulations to Science North for being named Attraction of the Year and receiving the most votes overall.”

Selected by an independent committee of tourism industry representatives, the Indigenous Tourism Award recognizes an organization, individuals or experience that has demonstrated a commitment to the development and promotion of authentic, cultural Indigenous experiences for visitors to Ontario.

More specifically the winner of this award is selected based on how the organization and/or its offerings stimulated tourism employment and economic activity within Indigenous communities, the social and cultural impacts the organization or experience had on its host community with regards to the advancement of Indigenous culture and community, and how the organization or experience contributed to or enhanced tourism offerings in the local community, region or province of Ontario (including: an increase in the number of visitors to the community, region or province, an increase in visitor spending and return visitors, and an increase in employment opportunities.