From climbing expeditions to glamping opportunities, supporting an Indigenous-owned tourism business is both a memorable and an ethical way to expand your knowledge of the area’s First Peoples.
“Indigenous Peoples are currently engaged in a period of cultural reclamation and rejuvenation, using tourism as a means to rediscover and proudly share their culture with the world,” says Keith Henry, President and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. “Now is the time for us to come together and celebrate our connection to this vast country.”
Here are just five great Indigenous-led experiences to try as the weather gets cooler, all of which are just a short drive from Calgary.
Where: Roughly a 90-minute drive southeast of downtown Calgary on the Siksika Nation.
This National Historic Site is where Treaty 7 was signed between five bands in southern Alberta and the Crown in 1877. Spend a rainy fall day in the museum learning about Siksika language, culture and history through its numerous interactive exhibits — be sure to book an indoor tour with a local Siksika interpreter in advance. And don’t leave the site without sampling traditional cuisine at the on-site restaurant.
Where: Business is based out of Airdrie; guests are picked up at a pre-determined location.
The changing leaves make early fall an especially beautiful time of year to get hooked on trout fishing. For your fly-fishing adventure, choose to fish from a boat with the Half Day Bow River Float or the Full Day Bow River Float, or opt instead for the full-day Walk and Wade. All Drift Out West Fly Fishing experiences are led by fishing guide Quinn Soonias, whose Cree ancestors lived on the banks of the Bow River.
Where: Roughly a 90-minute drive northwest of downtown Calgary in Mountainview County.
All of the Ojibway, Cree and Mohawk instructors bring their culture to every Painted Warriors experience, whether you choose to admire fall foliage while horseback riding, try out archery or learn about traditional healing and hunting techniques. To really unwind and connect to the powerful effects of nature, spend more than just an afternoon there. Plan to go glamping in its rustic tents, which are cozy even in colder weather. This experience also includes a traditional Indigenous dinner and evening campfire.
Where: Various locations; business is based out of Red Deer.
Instead of gaining elevation in the mid-summer heat, try climbing in the cooler fall season. Tim Taylor, Girth Hitch Guiding’s principal owner, is proud of his Métis heritage. He brings his cultural background to every alpine climbing experience that he guides, with trips in the David Thompson Corridor, Banff National Park, Yoho National Park and the Bow Valley. Beginner adventurers can book a via ferrata experience — a protected climbing route with a steel cable, metal steps, bridges and ladders — or challenge yourself with rock climbing or rappelling.
Where: Roughly a 45-minute drive west of Red Deer in Rocky Mountain House.
Experience the peace of ranch life and admire the fall colours on horseback with Wildhorse Ranch & Outfitters. Ninety-minute, weather-dependent rides take place all year. Expect to learn a lot with the Diane and Bear Bakers as guides: Bear has more than five decades of experience as a hunter, trapper and guide, and is passionate about sharing his knowledge.
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada works to build awareness and interest in Indigenous-led tourism experiences. To learn more about the many unique and authentic Indigenous tourism opportunities in Canada visit destinationindigenous.ca.
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