For the longest time, tourism in the Queen Charlotte Islands was primarily focused on the fishing lodge business. There was much criticism at the community level about visitors flying in on a chartered aircraft who went straight to the lodge and never at any moment had the opportunity to visit a local art gallery or spend money in local stores. One of the things we do on this trip is encourage people to come up earlier or to stay longer, so they can discover other facets of the community. We will guide them in their choice of activities and accommodations. We actually build this into the experience to some extent by hiring local resources to go on a tour, cook a traditional meal for guests prepared by a local First Nations family, sometimes even giving guests a chance to spend a night with a local family.
We estimate that our activities have generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for individuals and businesses in Haida Gwaii. This is not something that earns us extra revenue. Because we are here for the long term, nurturing relationships with host communities is very important.
In all Canadian areas that are part of First Nations territory, we work collaboratively with them. In the Great Bear Rainforest—the most tangible example—we signed protocol agreements with two First Nations that carry 90% of our operating area. Hartley Bay’s Gitga’at people is one; and the Kitasoo Native Band at Klemtu is the other. Our activities generate $10 per person per night as a fee that is paid for the use of their territory. It is our recognition of their historic rights. We are committed to hiring local guides. At Hartley Bay, on all of our Great Bear Rainforest trips, we will spend a day with a guide hired through the Gitga’at development corporation. Typically, that is a Spirit bear-focused experience.
We are committed to buying our food for the trips in local communities, despite this being at times a challenge for our cooks, because supplies are not as dependable and more menu flexibility is required as a result.
There are 4 crew members, the captain, the chef, our resource person who is typically a biologist, and then our mate who assists the others, runs the zodiacs, assists with the kayaks and sails. We have an on-going wildlife log so all significant wildlife sightings are catalogued. We are travelling in parts of the coast that researchers seldom get to. For 20 years, we have been doing marine mammal sightings in conjunction with the Vancouver Aquarium and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.
Appreciate wilderness, respect wildlife and native cultures
We only travel in small groups of 12-16 guests. Small groups can watch in awe as a bear feeds on salmon. Smaller boats can float silently among the whales. We adhere to the principals of ecotourism. We support local communities, promote conservation, ensure our practices are low impact, and provide guests with world-class knowledge about the coast, the wildlife and Native cultures. We travel together in a relaxed, fun style (our lives are here to be enjoyed). We contribute to a variety of whale and seabird research programs and support conservation groups working to protect coastal wilderness.
On each trip we are committed to introducing participants to the wonders of nature. An experienced naturalist leads daily walks ashore and often provides short evening slide shows or presentations. Participants find learning engages their curiosity, and enriches the trip immensely. On all our voyages we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible to take advantage of wildlife sightings, weather and tides, and the interests of the group. These sample itineraries describe typical trips. Activities, however, may occur in a different order or be substituted by suitable alternatives. Wildlife is wild life and may not necessarily conform to our schedules.
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