Tuesday marks the launch of Canada’s first Indigenous-owned travel and tourism agency in Winnipeg, Treaty 1 territory.
Co-founder Chris Maxfield says he and his friend Darrell Phillips came up with the idea for Indigeno Travel in 2015.
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Following Phillips’ death in 2017, Maxfield quit his day job to pursue their shared dream.
Phillips’ surviving wife, co-owner and board member Charlene Phillips says the agency’s doors are open to everyone.
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“We want all Canadians to know that Indigeno is for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people. No matter who you are or where you’re going, Indigeno is for all of us to use,” she says. “Darrell and Chris’ story is one of reconciliation; two long-time friends form a partnership to create Aboriginal jobs.
Indigeno Travel’s goal is to help navigate our way to hundreds of Indigenous tourist destinations.
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According to Chief Dennis Meeches of the Long Plain First Nation, the community is excited about the idea.
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“It’s really the synergy of it all and the ability to come together in partnership to create opportunity for all of our people, which is so important to us as Indigenous people,” he says. “I think being able to create tourism within our Indigenous communities is paramount, it’s really, really important.”
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The organization also facilitates the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92, which is directed at businesses and workplaces, highlighting the need for resolution in this sector.
“We want to recognize the many commitments we see across Canada from businesses and other
which encompass the TRC’s Calls to Action. Indigeno makes it easy to deliver on those commitments,” said Indigeno spokesperson Jessica Dumas, former president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and president of Jessica Dumas Coaching & Training.
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Currently, the agency has partnered with other companies and plans to expand its reach.
“Combined with our partnership with Great Canadian and Continental, this will make Indigeno one of the most competitive travel agencies in Canada, with 42 employees and plans to expand across the country,” Maxfield said.
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