Ktunaxa Nation’s Speaking Earth tourism program has inaugural weekend

Ktunaxa Nation’s Speaking Earth tourism program has inaugural weekend

Exclusive First Nations cultural tourism experience starts off strong


Speaking Earth, or Haqa’pa’ninam (Hackalth-palth-knee-nam), the Ktunaxa tourism experience that had been in the works for nearly 20 years, had its inaugural weekend from May 25 to 27.

“Pretty much through all the feedback that we received from everyone that took part in it, it was a big success,” said Jared Teneese, business and product development coordinator with the Traditional Knowledge and Language Sector (TKL) at St. Eugene.

“We realized that we have a world-class product and it met the standards of everyone that was here and it me the standards that we push out to have in the beginning. Everybody thought it was a positive experience.”

One of the key components that will ensure the experience’s future success is its organizers’ adaptability and willingness to hear and learn from their guests.

For example, initially the package was intended to be a five day, four night excursion that took participants all over the traditional Ktunaxa territory — from St. Eugene to Ainsworth to Invermere.

“So we had a very wide circle tour, but when we brought it to Canada’s West [Marketplace — a tourism trade show in Banff], a lot of the buyers are saying it was too long,” Teneese said. “Too long, people don’t have enough time to commit to that, they wanted short intervals of stuff, so over a lunch period we changed the program.”

READ MORE: Speaking Earth provides guests with totally unique Ktunaxa experience

Teneese said that they retooled their programming and made it so it was centred out of St. Eugene, and people could commit to the full weekend, or individual components of the experience.

“When we start going to other places you start having to worry about, well, are they going to hold the standards we do? Not saying they won’t, but we have extremely high standards for our program and what we offer and when you start adding in other people you don’t have control over that.”

However, when they brought the program to Rendezvous Canada [a Canadian international tourism marketplace] they found that there are indeed people out there that actually want the longer iteration of the program.

Fortunately, they are already set up for that, and can accommodate it if the need be.

“So we have the best of both markets,” Teneese said.

Additionally, after this first weekend, they had things that weren’t in the planned programming, that wound up greatly adding to the experience of their guests.

“The teepee raising — that was never part of our program, that just happened due to our cultural assistants wanting to add in something that they were good at and that was raising those tipis.”

Teneese said that going forward, that would be something they’d like to add to the program.

Registration, including several more discount days are still available, which gives people the opportunity to come in and try it for a little bit cheaper.

Teneese explained that what they feel is really going to sell the program is the people who experience it firsthand and share it with others.

For more information visit www.speakingearth.ca


Ktunaxa Nation’s Speaking Earth tourism program has inaugural weekend