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How to Support Indigenous-Owned Businesses in Canada

Sponsored by Destination Canada

Nov 17, 2021

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Aurora Village

Gawain Jones

Aurora Village

Traveling deeper means an enriching journey that celebrates cultures and communities. Immerse yourself in the rich and vibrant cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada by supporting Indigenous-owned small businesses, booking local tours, and enjoying hidden culinary gems steeped in centuries-old traditions.

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With more than 630 Indigenous communities across Canada, Indigenous peoples aren’t just the Great White North’s original inhabitants, but an incredible living culture defined by oral tradition, respect for elders, and a connection with nature. Today, First Nations peoples, Inuit, and Métis practice, share, and celebrate what it means to be Indigenous through art, food, clothing, and storytelling. Exploring the country through an Indigenous lens makes for an enlightening trip. And when you book with and dine at Indigenous-owned businesses across Canada, and take home authentic souvenirs like Manitobah Mukluks, handcrafted beads, sacred-patterned blankets, and much more, your vacation will be a force for good too. You’ll help sustain local communities, protect and preserve their way of life and environments, and immerse yourself in fascinating history, inspiring culture, and natural beauty. Here are 13 Indigenous-owned businesses to support on your next trip to Canada.

Ontario

Manitoulin Island 

1. Manitoulin Brewing    

This small craft brewery takes water from Lake Manitou, the world’s largest freshwater lake on an island, to make their First Nations–inspired beers. Manitoulin Brewery hires members of local Indigenous communities, including Whitefish River First Nation and Wikwemikong First Nation, to create draughts like Cup and Saucer English Ale, a nod to a favorite hiking trail on the island. Their food menu also features produce and proteins sourced from these local communities. Located in Little Current, it’s best reachable by car or ferry in the summer months. If you’ve had one too many brews, rest easy at the Manitoulin Hotel outfitted with First Nations decor.

Cup and Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island // Photo by Max Coquard

Quebec

Wendake

2. Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations

The gentle sounds of the Akiawenrahk River lull guests to sleep at this four-star boutique hotel. A 20-minute drive outside Québec City, each room is decorated with First Nations touches like animal furs and Indigenous artwork. The Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations also offers cultural experiences, including tours to the Huron-Wendat Musem and their onsite Ekionkiestha’ National Longhouse. The hotel’s restaurant, La Traite, grills game meats with berries from the surrounding bountiful region.

Nova Scotia

Eskasoni

3. Eskasoni Cultural Journeys

The small community of Eskasoni is a 25-minute scenic drive from Sydney's J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport. Home of the world’s largest Mi’kmaq community, Eskasoni Cultural Tours offers multicultural guided trips to local villages to participate in cultural activities like smudging and Indigenous games that have been passed down through generations. Afterward, drive through the fjords to Dunlop Inn, a four-star seaside retreat and watch the sailboats glide across the water.

New Brunswick

Red Bank

4. Metepenagiag Heritage Park

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The Mi'kmaq are one of the oldest communities in New Brunswick. The Metepenagiag Heritage Park showcases this history through guided walks with a local, storytelling handed down over countless years by Mi'kmaq elders, and traditional foods cooked over an open fire. Fly to either Moncton Airport or Fredericton International Airport, rent a car, and take the nearly two-hour ride to this remote gem. After the sun has set and the campfire embers fade, retire to your cozy tipi for an evening under the stars.

Photo by Jessica Burtnick

Manitoba

Churchill

5. Wapusk Adventures

Dave Daley is a professional dog musher and proud member of the Métis community. Wapusk Adventures was born from his love of dogs in 2001; now, they have 38 sled dogs leading tours around Churchill, Manitoba. After learning about Métis culture, feel the wind in your hair as the dogs run through the boreal forest. If the Northern Lights are calling you, Daley and his team have the ideal location for spotting them on a clear winter’s night. Take a flight to Churchill Airport or the VIA Rail train from Winnipeg to reach this frozen oasis.

British Columbia

West Vancouver

6. Mr. Bannock Indigenous Cuisine

Chef Paul Natrall is bringing Indigenous street food to the streets—literally. His food truck plates up award-winning “Indian tacos,” combining ingredients from Squamish First Nation and customary cooking methods like stone baking with Mexican flavors. His other best-sellers are bannock, a traditional fry bread, and a venison bannock burger. For a bite of his goods, fly to Vancouver International Airport and take a 30-minute car or taxi to the truck. Then, spend the day exploring Vancouver by foot and rest up at Skwachàys Lodge, the country’s first Indigenous arts hotel.

Prince Edward Island

Lennox Island

7. Lennox Island

An island within an island, Mi’kmaq peoples call this seaside enclave home. Fly into Charlottetown Airport and rent a car for the one-and-a-half-hour ride to Lennox Island. Here visitors can learn to do quillwork on birchbark, try a traditional clam bake in the sand, and make a hand drum to take home. These immersive cultural activities are not just a way of life; they’re a celebration of long-standing traditions.

Saskatchewan

Whitecap

8. Dakota Dunes Resort 
A newly built resort located on Whitecap Dakota Unceded Territory, a 20-minute drive or taxi ride from Saskatoon, pays homage to its ancestors with design nods to the tipi. The contemporary design of each room emphasizes the beauty of the natural environment, a core principle of the Dakota Indigenous peoples. Activities like tribal pow wow dances are on offer, as is the lure of nearby Saskatoon, where shops like Indigenous-owned Twig & Squirrel's Wild Goods sell furs and beads.

Spirit Island, Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park // Photo by Johan Lolos

Alberta

Jasper National Park

9. Jasper Tour Company

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Owned and operated by Patti and Joe Urie, a member of the Métis Nation community, Jasper Tour Company leads small group tours through the majestic wilderness of Jasper National Park. A climb to the Maligne Valley or a driving tour to spot bears and moose means adventurous spirits are welcome. Reachable by three-hour car or train from Edmonton or Calgary, stop along the way at Brekkie Cafe or Sammie Cafe to stock up on Raven Rising, chocolates and pastries sourced from and made by local Indigenous peoples. Best for a multi-day trip, visitors can stay with the Urie’s in one of two suites at the Elkview Accommodation.

Newfoundland

Gros Morne National Park

10. Wild Gros Morne

A treasure trove of natural beauty awaits at Gros Morne National Park. The Mi'kmaq peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial, hunting and fishing for survival. Wild Gros Morne, a Mi’kmaq-owned tour company, leads small groups on hikes through the wilderness, Zodiac rides through the fjords, kayak trips along the coast, and much more. A flight to Deer Lake Regional Airport is the easiest and fastest way to get to the park. Due to its far-flung location, an overnight stay at the tour company’s colorful glamping Saltbox Pods is ideal. On your way back to civilization, stopover in St. Johns to gorge on lobster and crab at Indigenous-owned The Fish Depot.

Photo by Destination Canada

Northwest Territories

Inuvik

11. Tundra North Tours
The wide-open expanses of the frozen Arctic are unlike any other place in Canada. Tundra North Tours is Inuit-owned, highlighting the best of Inuvik through day and multi-day tours. Boat through the Mackenzie Delta to an Inuit Whaling camp, hop on the back of a snowmobile and chase the Northern Lights. While Indigenous-owned Air Tindi doesn’t have scheduled flights to Inuvik, you can arrange a charter flight with them from Yellowknife. Otherwise, Canadian North and Air North fly to and from this remote outpost.

Yukon

Whitehorse

12. Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre

At the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, First Nations people welcome travelers to experience their vibrant culture. Community members hold sewing circles, host an artist residency program, and show visitors how to make moccasins from moose hides. An eight-minute car ride or taxi from Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport brings you to the Cultural Centre. Next to downtown Whitehorse, stop by Aroma Borealis or the Midnight Sun Emporium for Indigenous artisanal soaps from The Yukon Soaps Company. Twenty minutes outside town, the Northern Lights Resort & Spa is a prime location for viewing the Northern Lights from their Aurora Glass Chalets.

Nunavut

Arctic Bay

13. Arctic Bay Adventures 
In the wild northeast corner of Baffin Island is Canada’s third northernmost settlement. As remote as it is beautiful, Arctic Bay Adventures invites travelers to their Inuit community to experience narwhals in their natural habitat, gaze up at the colors of the Aurora Borealis, and learn the ways of Inuit culture firsthand. After a day of exploration, warm up with a private locally-sourced meal prepared by Inuit chef Sijjakkut. There are flights to Arctic Bay Airport from major cities throughout Canada. Upon arrival, Arctic Bay Adventures will pick you up and whisk you away to their corner of Canada.

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