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ITO All-Stars Cup

March 13-17th, 2023 | Workforce Development, Marketing and Branding

On March 13-17, 2023 Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) was onsite at the Little Native Hockey League tournament hosted by Nipissing First Nation launching the inaugural ITO All Stars Cup. A groundbreaking off-ice tournament aimed at fostering interest in the tourism industry amongst First Nations youth, the event comprised a series of dynamic and immersive activities, designed to captivate the attention and imagination of 340 Indigenous participants from across Ontario, showcasing a career in tourism.

Activities included:

FEAST Culinary Workshops: Aspiring young chefs participated in culinary sessions led by Indigenous chefs. Teams followed along at their own workstations in a series of engaging, daily workshops. Featured chefs included Chef Tammy Maki of Raven Rising, Chef Douglas Trudeau of 4 Winds Catering, Chef Jordan Clayton-Douglas and Chef Cedar Smoke of Daashmaawaan Bimaadzijin, and Chef Paul Owl of Treeteas Brewing. Teaching Indigenous cuisine and cooking techniques through cooking demonstrations exemplifies how ITO delivers our workforce-development pillar through our FEAST Indigenous Food Tourism Strategy.

Top Shelf Workshops: Based on the Three Fires Collaborative Quest, ITO's Indigenous Business Advisors hosted immersive knowledge sharing workshops highlighting tourism 101, medicine wheel teachings, Science North Indigenous Ingenuity workshops, community engagement, customer service, leading and coaching skills.

Virtual Reality: Youth were engaged with various Indigenous Virtual Reality (VR) experiences through the help of ORIGIN. This Indigenous VR company has created unique learning environments for cultural teachings through technology.

Archery Lessons: Hosted by Neil Debassige of Fuel the Fire TV, participants experienced a day in the life of a land-based Indigenous tourism entrepreneur through a VR experience with ITO. After some digital inspiration, participants got to meet the star of the VR experience and learn new skills in a real-world archery 101 session. This provided youth with an interactive and educational experience that left them inspired to learn more about archery and possible career paths in the Indigenous tourism industry.

Skode: ITO hosted the first in-person Skode Live Pitch Competition in partnership with the Tourism Innovation Lab. ITO All-Star Cup participants witnessed 6 incredible Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs present their new Indigenous tourism ideas to a judging panel of Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs. Acting as the 5th judge, audience members cast their votes for their favorite pitch. Contestant Sarah Sproule from Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation was awarded the $20,000 grand prize to support the development of her new Indigenous tourism idea - Wayeshkad Trapline Tours & Accommodations!

Parent Testimonials:

"This was a fantastic opportunity to show our children that anything is possible and introduce them to a variety of things that may not be available otherwise." shared a parent from Batchewana First Nation.

"My children had an incredible experience all week. My daughter loved the culinary experiences with Chef Paul and the others. It has inspired a new appreciation for cooking and trying new foods and recipes." shared Sarah from Pikwakanagan First Nation.

ITO is grateful for the warm welcome from the Little Native Hockey League, Nipissing First Nation, and all LNHL 2023 attendees at the inaugural ITO All Stars Cup and is looking forward to showcasing the activities at future events.