Collaborative Adventure Tourism in Sahtu, NT: A Model for Culturally Sustainable Economic Development

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area, North Slave Region

Tags: tourism, employment opportunities

Principal Investigator: Leckie, Toban M (1)
Licence Number: 15476
Organization: Trent University
Licensed Year(s): 2014
Issued: Jul 07, 2014

Objective(s): To determine through interviews the extent of consultation between the adventure tourism industry and the Deline community, what the barriers are to participation in the industry for Indigenous members of the community, and whether collaborative adventure tourism projects in Sahtu can provide a model for socially and culturally sustainable economic development in Northwest Territories.

Project Description: The Principal Investigator intends to conduct interviews with Deline community members, community leaders, industry officials, and adventure tour operators. Through these interviews the Principal Investigator will determine the extent of consultation between the adventure tourism industry and the Deline community, what the barriers are to participation in the industry for Indigenous members of the community, and whether collaborative adventure tourism projects in Sahtu can provide a model for socially and culturally sustainable economic development in Northwest Territories. While there is a growing body of academic literature relating to Indigenous/corporate partnership in Canada, little has been written on the potential economic and social benefits afforded by Indigenous/corporate adventure tourism partnerships. This research will focus on questions such as: How might effective partnerships between Deline and the adventure tourism industry be developed and nurtured? Are these the sorts of relationships the community and the tour operators are interested in developing? If they are, how can they be productively and sustainably nurtured?

This research project will consist entirely of one-on-one interviews in the communities in which research participants live and/or work. Interview questions will address four distinct categories of research participants: Indigenous community members from Deline, NT who are interested in the employment/consultation opportunities afforded by the adventure tourism industry in the Sahtu region of NT; community leaders from Deline (eg. the ekwahtide [chief] of Deline, the economic development coordinator for the Charter Community of Deline (CCD), the tourism coordinator for CCD, and Deline Elders interested in embedding cultural traditions in tourism practices and products); tourism industry and Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) officials; and, tourism providers and operators licensed to operate in Sahtu, NT (eg. Plummer’s Fishing Lodges, Canoe North Adventures, Blackfeather, and Camp Wanapitei). Interviews will be conducted in person with research participants and recorded with a digital audio recorder. While the interview questions attached to this application will serve as points of entry into the interview conversation, the intention is that these interviews will evolve into more open-ended conversations as research participants see fit.

Research participants will have their opinions and perspectives included in the thesis project, a project that the Principal Investigator hopes will be of use to Deline as it moves forward in its economic development objectives, specifically with regards to the development of tourism products offered by the community. This study will potentially benefit the five Sahtu Dene communities of Deline, Tulita, Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope and Norman Wells by encouraging increased employment/consultation opportunities for Indigenous community members, and by highlighting the need for economic development models that reflect the needs and values of Dene communities. It will potentially benefit the adventure tourism industry by providing information critical to developing tourism products that are culturally and socially responsible, and arguably more rich and fulfilling for clientele. The research project will also contribute to the literature relating to effective Indigenous/corporate partnerships.

After the interviews have been conducted the audio recording of each interview will be transcribed, and the transcription for each research participant will be sent to them for review. Research participants will have the opportunity to edit the content, make recommendations regarding additional information they’d like to see included, determine whether their names or identifying content should be omitted or anonymized, and given the opportunity to withdraw completely from the research project. Once the final draft of the thesis is complete the document will be sent to the Charter Community of Deline band council for review, allowing them to make general recommendations for accuracy before submission and defense of the dissertation. Once defended the thesis will also be made available to research participants from the tourism industry, the GNWT, and tourism operators. Final copies of the thesis will be sent to each of the tour operators, the GNWT Department of Tourism, and to the CCD Band Council. The Principal Investigator is hoping that circumstances will allow me to return to Yellowknife, and Sahtu, to give presentations to communities interested in learning more about the findings of this research project, and the adventure tourism industry generally.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 27, 2014 to September 5, 2014.