You can now book a guided tour of St. Patrick’s Island and spend two hours learning about Blackfoot culture, native plants, the history of Treaty 7 and more, with Many Chief Tours.
Tarra Wright Many Chief launched her eco-tourism company with the intent to showcase natural landscapes and their historical importance to Indigenous people, right here at home.
“With Indigenous tourism, it really connected with me because you can stay in your own community, you can preserve your culture and really be responsible about how you want your culture shared with visitors,” says Many Chief. “You have those two components, cultural preservation but also economic development.”
The inspiration behind the Mohkinstsis walking tour — Mohkinstsis is the Blackfoot word for Elbow and refers to the area of Calgary — came from a combination of Many Chief’s love of visiting parks in the city with her two daughters, and the confluence of the Elbow and Bow rivers near St. Patrick’s Island, which is considered a sacred site for the Blackfoot people.
The tour starts at the George C. King Bridge, where Many Chief explains the importance of land acknowledgements. It then crosses into St. Patrick’s Island where the group stops at five different points to identify plants and their uses. While they stop, Many Chief relays information on Indigenous populations and different treaty areas in Canada.
“I’m hoping what it does is actually inspire people to want to do more research and find out more, and have that self-guided learning experience,” says Many Chief.
Many Chief Tours will launch a second walking tour, the Siksikaitsitapi Medicine Wheel Tour, on Nose Hill Park, this spring 2021.
In the meantime, interested individuals can book the Mohkinstsis two-hour tour online, which is set to run until early to mid-November, before starting back up next spring. Tours are suitable for all ages and are conducted on paved or gravel walking paths with little to no incline.