Government of Canada announces more than $320,000 to enhance Indigenous cultural experiences

News release

$320,500 to enhance Indigenous cultural experiences

Funding will support destination development and cultural education in Whistler and Brackendale

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 – Whistler and Brackendale, British Columbia – Pacific Economic Development Canada

COVID-19 had a significant impact on Canadian tourism as travel restrictions, both domestically and internationally, reduced visits to attractions across the country. The Government of Canada created the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) to support tourism businesses and organizations investing their future growth, while safely welcoming visitors once again.

Today, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), announced a total investment of $320,500 to support two projects in Whistler and Brackendale through the TRF.

At the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, an investment of $220,500 will help create a new Indigenous tourism experience showcasing the cultures of the Squamish and Lil'Wat Nations. Visitors are being invited to participate in carving a 30 foot-long cedar canoe that is installed at the Centre for public viewing. This anchor attraction provides the community with a unique and meaningful opportunity to connect visitors to the land and participate in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. In addition to creating and maintaining jobs for the local community, the exhibit is expected to be visited by thousands of domestic and international tourists.

The Cheakamus Foundation for Environmental Learning is receiving $100,000 to enhance year-round Indigenous cultural experiences at Cheakamus Centre, a recognized education and nature-based events facility. The project will allow for upgrades to the Centre, including COVID-19 safety modifications. It will engage Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Knowledge Keepers to ensure respectful integration of new Indigenous programming elements. In addition to educating visitors on the region’s Indigenous heritage and teachings, the project is expected to produce career pathways for local Indigenous youth.

The Government of Canada continues to deliver on its plan for a robust economic recovery, including supporting tourism businesses and community spaces as they resume their activities safely. In British Columbia, the TRF is being delivered by PacifiCan, the Government of Canada’s new regional development agency dedicated to strengthening British Columbia’s economy.


“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring all sectors have the resources they need to succeed as we build back even stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tourism Relief Fund helps communities like Whistler and Brackendale deliver experiences that make Canada a top destination for visitors from around the world. These projects also highlight the rich history of local Indigenous communities and support Indigenous-led businesses and organizations.”
–The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

“The Canadian tourism sector continues to be one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fully committed to supporting businesses and organizations through these challenging times, keeping safety as the top priority while ensuring they get support to quickly recover, innovate their products and services, and thrive. The Tourism Relief Fund will help businesses adapt, make improvements, and be ready to welcome back guests. It also feeds into a broader strategy to help the sector survive the pandemic, recover and grow. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”
–The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

“The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre and Cheakamus Foundation provide world-class tourism experiences that contribute to our local economy and enhance cultural learning for residents and visitors alike. Through this investment, we are supporting Indigenous-led businesses, creating jobs, and attracting tourists from across Canada and around the world. The programs being supported will allow visitors to have an enriching opportunity to participate in Truth and Reconciliation here in the Sea to Sky region.”
–Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country

“The Community Reconciliation Canoe is an invitation from the SLCC Ambassadors to the world, and aims to bridge any distance between all the hearts travelling to this land, those living in appreciation on it, and the original peoples who steward the landscape before you. Together, a canoe will be created, thoughtfully carved by Master Carvers, Elders, youth from the Nations, residents of Whistler and visitors who come to play here. We raise our hands in thanks to the Canadian government for their continued support.”
–Heather Paul, Executive Director, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

"We are grateful for this generous funding to help grow educational tourism experiences in our region, and welcome visitors of all ages to share in the beauty, depth and vibrancy of Skwxwú7mesh culture in fun, interactive and engaging ways."
–Cathy Jenkins, Director, Cheakamus Foundation

Quick facts

  • The TRF will help position Canada as a destination of choice as domestic and international travel rebounds by:

    • empowering tourism businesses to create new or enhance existing tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors
    • helping the sector reposition itself to welcome international visitors, by providing the best Canadian tourism experiences we have to offer the world
  • Eligible applicants include tourism entities that cater mainly to visitors, such as:

    • businesses
    • not-for-profit organizations, such as tourism associations
    • band councils or other Indigenous organizations and cooperatives
  • PacifiCan is the regional development agency dedicated to British Columbia. PacifiCan promotes growth and diversification in British Columbia’s economy by enhancing innovation, improving business competitiveness, and promoting inclusive growth.

Associated links


Haley Hodgson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development

Amanda Costa
A/Communications Manager
Pacific Economic Development Canada

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