The Indigenous Tourism Start-up Program is presented in partnership with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Líl̓wat Cultural Centre and the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.

Indigenous Tourism Start-up Program

Program Overview

The Indigenous Tourism Start-up Program (ITSP) is a new program being launched by the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) and the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS). The program is focusing on Indigenous communities including but not limited to: Squamish, Lil̓wat, Lower St̓át̓yemc (N’Quatqua, Samahquam, Skatin, Xa’xtsa), Upper St̓át̓yemc (T’it’q’et, Ts’kw’aylaxw, Xaxli’p, Tsal’alh. Se’k’welwas and Xwisten), Musqueam, Tsleil –Waututh, Sto:Lo, Tswawwassen, Kwantlen, Katzie, Kwikweltlm, and Shishalh Nations. Indigenous people from other communities are also welcomed to apply!

This program will focus on the development of an Indigenous tourism business concept and then the development of a business plan. We will use the Business Model Canvas as a template for identifying a clear value proposition, customer market, cash flow and revenue streams, and then develop a full business plan.

The program will include four two-day interactive and cohort-based classroom sessions, one-on-one mentorship, guest speakers, on-line learning, and mentor support, and take place from September to November, 2019, with a final pitch event in November. Thanks to funding from the BC Rural Dividend Program, all program costs, including accommodation and travel allowance, are covered for the participants within the region identified. Participants from communities beyond the identified region will be reimbursed to a maximum travel allowance, and will also have costs of accommodation covered.

The ITSP builds off of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Líl̓wat Stl’atl ́imc Business Start-up Program (2018) and the Social Venture Challenge that the Centre created in 2015 and ran for three years. These initiatives successfully helped kick start new social enterprises in the region, with forty-one enterprises having completed the programs to date.

This program gave me the skills to think like a business owner, the resources to succeed, and the connections to make it happen. I left with a roadmap to the life I dreamt of, feeling confident and in control. But the best parts were the people I met — program facilitators, mentor matches, guest speakers, and of course the other entrepreneurs — who continue to inspire growth and positive change in our communities.

Jill Patrick

Grant Writer

Pitch Event

At the Indigenous Tourism Startup Program Pitch Event in November 2019, entrepreneurs pitched their business to a panel of experts for a chance to win $5000 cash prize toward their business startup.

  • Thursday, November 21, 2019
  • 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  •  Presentations started promptly at 6:30pm

Cass Spence was named inaugural winner of the Indigenous Tourism Startup Program. Read more about Cass’s idea in Pique Newsmagazine.


Project Goals

  • To encourage, support and inspire new Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs in the development of their new business
  • To support a stronger culture of Indigenous-based entrepreneurship
  • To build confidence and capacity in areas pertaining to business planning, financial literacy, marketing, branding, relationship building, and more
  • To increase jobs and employment, and strengthen community-driven economic development

Applications are now closed, if you would like to be notified of future Indigenous programming connect with Dawn Johnson

Thank You

Thank you to our generous funders for their contributions to the Indigenous Tourism Start-up Program.

Thanks for the support.

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