Kevin Eshkawkogan – Chief Executive Officer
Kevin is an Anishnabek and is a member of the M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island.
Kevin has been a key player in the development of Indigenous cultural tourism in Ontario since 2003. Kevin was an integral part of the development and growth of the Great Sprit Circle Trail (GSCT) on Manitoulin Island, one of the country’s most renowned Indigenous tourism organizations that provides culturally authentic Indigenous experiences to visitors along with marketing support to Indigenous operators.
He has provided leadership to GSCT for over 15 years and has imparted his guidance to countless individuals throughout Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada, and beyond.
Kevin works tirelessly to unite Indigenous tourism providers, grow market reach and bring meaningful employment opportunities to the region.
Kevin is a mentor and visionary who works closely with his community to ensure sustainable and organic growth within the Indigenous tourism industry.
In 2015, Kevin was named the Tourism Champion of the Year by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. He has also been recognized by numerous media outlets for his accomplishments within the industry.
Kevin sits on a variety of boards including the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO).
He has also helped establish ITO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), Northeastern Ontario Tourism, Destination Northern Ontario, the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre, and many other tourism organizations and businesses. He also sits on the Destination Ontario Sector Advisory Committee, Tourism Skillsnet Ontario Council, and the Trans Canada Trail Indigenous Advisory Committee.
Jasmine Burji – Director of Member Relations
Jasmine is a recent graduate who is passionate about community-based tourism and environmental sustainability. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Ryerson University and she has a research background in destination management and best practices of sustainable Indigenous tourism in Canada. Jasmine is analytical, innovative and inquisitive; bringing a fresh perspective to current issues and solutions in the Indigenous tourism industry. In addition to research, Jasmine has various experience with event planning and marketing communications.
Brian Still – Marketing Lead
Brian Still was born and raised in Whitefish River First Nations, just footsteps from the waters of McGregor Bay on the beautiful Georgian Bay. Brian spends all of his spare time on the water fishing; simply being in nature is what he lives for. Growing up, Brian was heavily involved in his family’s business where he learned the ways of being an entrepreneur in the tourism industry. It was no surprise when Brian launched his own career as a tourism business owner within the fishing/guide industry. He attended The College of the Rockies for Adventure Business Tourism, where he has advanced his knowledge and skills in guiding, entrepreneurship, running a tourism business and earning various outdoor certifications. While Brian has a wealth of knowledge on fishing, guiding, and the great outdoors he also has a passion for videography and photography. He enjoys capturing special moments for his clients, family and friends, along with showcasing his beautiful community and surrounding lands. Ultimately, it was the combination of Brian’s two greatest passions that has led to his success building a successful tourism business. Brian has always loved where he was born and raised and is excited for this new endeavour, while exploring and learning about fellow tourism businesses and helping to continue showcasing Indigenous Tourism Businesses through digital marketing.
Barbara Bond – Office Manager
Barbara was born and raised on Manitoulin Island. Stepping out and experiencing life adventures for thirty-six years, Manitoulin eventually called her back home to her roots. Barb worked for thirteen years as the Administrator for Movati Athletics in Thunder Bay and had the pleasure of working at the various locations throughout Ontario.
Her greatest passion is travelling and learning about cultures everywhere she goes. Her favourite pastime is working in her flowerbeds, the game of curling, and horseback riding.
Colleen Nolan – Product Development Lead & IBA Coordinator
Colleen is a proud Anishinabek woman, born and raised on the Garden River First Nation. After moving to Ottawa in the early 90s to attend school, she moved to Akwesasne where she has lived, raised her kids and worked for over 20 years. With a Business Administration background, she has over 15 years of experience in Employment and Training, Economic Development and Business Development working for Indigenous non-profit organizations as well as an Independent Consultant.
Her background includes working with various audiences including Indigenous Organizations, Indigenous entrepreneurs, community members and Economic Developers. She has coordinated and delivered various workshops, programs and events including speed networking events for job seekers, a small business conference, business development workshops, and customized specialty workshops.
With the initial onset of the pandemic, Colleen discovered she had a hidden talent (the art of mitt and moccasin making). This came about when she needed an outlet to help with stress and anxiety. As a seasoned facilitator, she was able to teach others the craft and since October 2019 has taught over 200 individuals. Helping people is her passion; to learn, to grow, to advise, to mentor.
In her spare time, Colleen loves to golf, is a rookie diy’r, and enjoys participating in outdoor activities.
Steven Debassige - Cultural Integrity Lead
A proud Ojibway Anishinaabe with a close and strong connection to his home community of Manitoulin Island’s, M’Chigeeng First Nation; Steven brings to Indigenous Tourism Ontario as its Membership Coordinator, over 30 years of senior hospitality, business management and development experience.
Steven is an experienced operator with some of Canada’s leading hospitality corporations, from the small and independent to some of the industry’s leading major national and global brands from many points across this nation. A business development focused leader with a passion for excellence in customer service, attention to detail and overall guest satisfaction. Steven most recently and independently completed the design, outfit and opening of M’Chigeeng Freshmart, a fully owned and operated, full-service grocery store in the heart of M’Chigeeng First Nation.
Steven continuously brings the Seven Grandfather teachings into his personal life and business operations.
A committed lifelong learner that loves the outdoors and continues to explore his history, culture, the world around us and being one with nature. From hiking to hockey, canoeing and snowshoeing, to exploring the land; Steven loves to travel, his family, his daughters, his grandson, and everything that interests them.
Emilie Wlodek - Four Pillars Manager
Emilie’s background started in the hospitality industry where she evolved her customer service experience. Her passion and experiences with small businesses evolved her career towards tourism development.
As a graduate of Ryerson University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Commerce program, Emilie specialized in tourism research, Indigenous tourism development, and destination marketing. Throughout her education, Emilie has worked with various small businesses which allowed her to apply her knowledge of best practices in the industry to the real world.
She is very hardworking, analytical, and creative. As the Special Projects Coordinator, she is very excited to showcase her passions with ITO.
Cassidy Phillips - Project Manager
Cassidy is a non-Indigenous settler of mixed ancestry who is a committed ally to Indigenous Peoples. She is also an avid reader, a film & television aficionado, and an Oxford comma user. Cassidy’s pronouns are she and her.
Sherry Mayer - Vice President of Operations
Born and raised in the Greater Sudbury Region and a true nature lover, Sherry remained rooted within her northern community after her first academic graduation. With an honours diploma from Cambrian College in Social Services and studies with the Indigenous Social Work Program with Laurentian University, her career focus is on improving social inclusion, diversity and anti-oppression efforts for Northeastern Ontario communities.
Sherry brings forth 12 years of both front line and management experience within the Employment and Immigration sectors, has led a variety of social projects and steering committee’s and has worked with many diverse populations over the span of her career; more recently she has assisted with the Northern Policy Institute’s Matchmaker Project and Project Officer role for Magnetic North. Sherry is also an entrepreneur and experienced yoga teacher with certifications in Hatha Yoga and Yoga Therapy, specializing in trauma-informed yoga practices.
Sherry leads ITO’s Indigenous Ingenuity Northern Tour in partnership with Science North and the Northern Policy Institute, helping to enhance Indigenous partnerships and tourism efforts, within Northern Ontario.
Chief Executive Officer
Director of Member Relations
Product Development Lead & IBA Coordinator
Cultural Integrity Lead
Four Pillars Manager
Vice President of Operations