Cree Nation of Mistissini
Mistissini looking to become premier tourist destination
By Sam Laskaris
An aerial view of the Cree Nation of Mistissini in Quebec which is hoping to become a premier tourist destination.
The Cree Nation of Mistissini is laying out the welcome mats.
During the past couple of decades the Quebec-based First Nation has seen economic development in its community on the upswing.
And now officials from the northern Quebec community are adopting several components of their My Mistissini 2034 plan. The goal of the 20-year plan is to have the First Nation become a premier tourism destination by the year 2034.
“We’re next to the biggest fresh water lake in the province,” Titus Shecapio, Mistissini’s director of community development, said of Lake Mistassini, which has a surface area of more than 2,300 kilometres.
Shecapio said people from across Quebec frequently travel to Mistissini to fish. And others are beginning to follow suit.
“We’re starting to pick up on the American market,” he said.
While the First Nation is already considered a great fishing spot, Shecapio said the My Mistissini 2034 plan includes adding a number of winter excursions in the community to make it an appealing year-round destination.
“We want to get some snowshoeing projects going,” Shecapio said. “And some off-trail excursions with snowmobiles. That’s probably the direction will be heading to.”
In part because of its visionary projects, Mistissini has been nominated in Cando’s community of the year category.
Cando is the national organization that promotes Indigenous economic development. The group also annually recognizes those in economic development officer of the year and Aboriginal Private Sector Business categories.
All 2018 winners will be announced at the Cando Conference, scheduled for Oct. 22-25 in Enoch, Alta.
Besides developing plans to bring more tourists to their community, Mistissini economic officials are also doing their fair share to help its members learn some of the nuances of the business world.
For the past three years a number of workforce development initiatives have been offered in Mistissini.
Shepacio said a number of community members know what type of business they’d like to launch but perhaps they don’t have the necessary requirements to do so.
“We try to assist them to get proper certifications,” he said.
Mistissini initiatives include helping its members with academic upgrading, life skills and work/training readiness programs and on-site work experience.
“They like the initiatives we take,” Shepacio said of those who have benefitted from the various programs offered. “It shows our department wants to work with the community members.”
Mistissini’s economic development department also offers a number of loans and grants to those local entrepreneurs undertaking new projects.