New Broughton Archipelago Campground to Boost Ecotourism

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A new campground located in the Broughton Archipelago located off the northern part of Vancouver Island (Canada) is expected to help the economy of a local First Nation.

According to a report, the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation government has launched a Come Back Home plan that will provide housing and health care, education, transportation, and other basic services that will facilitate an eventual return of their people back to their homelands.

The central idea behind this strategy is the development of a tourism-based economy that will replace the once flourishing forestry and fisheries industries which employed many of their people.

The First Nation received CA$50,000 in funding for new camping facilities at Buddy Bay, near the Gilford Island village of Gwa’yas’dums, from the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET)’s Capital and Innovation Program.

The project’s budget is CA$324,971. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2022.

“Our Nation is one of the few First Nations who are still fortunate enough to live in their traditional village site, which we have occupied for thousands of years,” said Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation Chief Rick Johnson.

“Gwa’yas’dums Village remains a strong draw for many of our members who live off reserve and who wish to return home.”

The Come Back Home project has other initiatives that address the public interest in Indigenous ecotourism and cultural experiences including the reconstruction of the Gwa’yas’dums Bighouse in 2014, the acquisition of the Echo Bay Marina and Lodge in 2020, and the completion of an interpretive ecotourism trail in Echo Bay in 2022. All of the initiatives were led by the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation.

“Gilford Island is the largest island in the world-renowned Broughton Archipelago, and the Village of Gwa’yas’dums is well positioned to become increasingly involved in the area’s growing tourism market,” said Chief Johnson.

“Our new permanent campground at Buddy Bay will be a 10-minute walk from Gwa’yas’dums and will support business investment and attraction related to ecotourism including kayak rentals, marine wildlife sightseeing guide outfits.”

Buddy Bay Campground will offer accommodations for visitors arriving on group kayak tours, self-organized tours, and many other marine excursions.

The campground will feature tent pads and a covered meeting area, an outdoor shower and outhouse, potable water, safety, and cultural interpretive signage, and trail improvements to existing trails to facilitate easy access to the village.

Future offerings could include traditional experiences like meals, marine tours, and cultural excursions facilitated by Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation community members.

“First Nations have and continue to steward these special places which visitors come to experience. Too often in the past, kayakers and ecotourism companies have used the beautiful territories of First Nations without contributing back towards their stewardship,” said ICET chair Aaron Stone.

“By introducing a new tourism experience to the Broughtons, this project will attract visitors to beautiful Gwa’yas’dums where they can experience Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis culture and community in a respectful way.”

This story originally appeared on Parksville Qualicum Beach News.

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