Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation able to build land‑based beluga observation site with Government of Canada support

News release

Aerial view of two belugas in the waters of the St. Lawrence River. Photo: GREMM Signature banner below the photo: “CED.CANADA.CA” in text and “Canada” wordmark.

Indigenous community administered from the Cacouna Reserve in the Bas‑Saint‑Laurent region receives $800,000 in financial assistance from CED.

Cacouna, Quebec, November 9, 2022 Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)

Supporting the tourism industry contributes to economic development in Quebec’s regions. That is why the Honourable Pascale St‑Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for CED, today announced a non‑repayable contribution of $800,000 for the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation (WWFN) to help it mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic. This CED support, granted under the Tourism Relief Fund, will make it possible to develop a new tourism attraction in the Bas‑Saint‑Laurent region: A land‑based beluga observation site.

The future Putep ‘t‑awt observation site, which will be located in Cacouna, is a one‑of‑a‑kind project. It will be a must‑see ecotourism attraction in the region, providing the public with an exceptional location to observe a beluga nursery off the coast, while also fostering efforts to protect the species through the study of their behaviour. The project will also integrate ecofriendly practices such as reduced water, electricity, and fuel consumption, and energy recovery. Moreover, building a land‑based beluga observation site will help develop the WWFN’s tourism draw, increase tourist traffic to the MRC de Rivière‑du‑Loup, and attract clientele to several of the region’s SMEs.

A key contributor to the Canadian economy, the tourism sector has been hit hard by the health crisis. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has put various measures in place to help businesses suffering the impacts of COVID‑19. The Tourism Relief Fund was created specifically to help businesses and organizations in the tourism sector offer innovative products and services to visitors and prepare to welcome back international travellers.


Supporting the development and marketing of tourism products is part of our strategic plan for the economic growth of regions such as Bas‑Saint‑Laurent. The diverse experiences developed by the tourism industry make Quebec a world‑class destination, and our government is focused on accompanying the players on the ground. This is precisely what the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation is doing by building an ecofriendly land‑based beluga observation site. Congratulations on this unique project!

The Honourable Pascale St‑Onge, Member of Parliament for Brome–Missisquoi, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for CED

“Canadian tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic. We will work with businesses and organizations in these difficult times so they can receive the assistance they need to offer innovative products and services, gain momentum, and prosper, while making safety an absolute priority. The Tourism Relief Fund enables businesses to adapt to welcome back guests in complete safety. It also feeds into a broader strategy to help the sector recover from the pandemic and build an economy that benefits all. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”

The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

“I am thrilled to see the Government of Canada supporting our efforts to successfully implement this innovative project. It signals a growing relationship between our two nations and represents a concrete gesture to conserve a threatened species. In line with our profound values, the Putep ‘t‑awt beluga observation site makes biodiversity protection a vector for tourism development. This new tourism offering will help diversify the experiences available and enhance the region’s drawing power.”

Jacques Tremblay, Grand Chief of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation

Quick facts

  • With a national budget of $500 million, including $485 million administered by the regional development agencies (RDAs) and $15 million by Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), the Tourism Relief Fund is part of the $1 billion in tourism support announced in Budget 2021.
  • A minimum of $50 million of the Fund’s national budget has been earmarked for Indigenous tourism projects. Indigenous communities that rely heavily on tourism have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
  • A total of $118.7 million from the Tourism Relief Fund has been allocated to CED to be administered in Quebec.
  • CED is a key federal partner in Quebec’s regional economic development. With its 12 regional business offices, CED accompanies businesses, supporting organizations and all regions across Quebec into tomorrow’s economy.

Associated links


Media Relations
Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

Ariane Joazard‑Bélizaire
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

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