Indigenous centre in Whistler relieved to welcome back, reinvigorate visitors

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Paul started as executive direct March 9 and had to close the centre five days later because of COVID-19. It acted early to protect not only its staff but also the elders who live with or are connected to the centre’s young workforce.

Before the pandemic, a majority of its visitors were U.S. and international visitors over the age of 55. The centre is adapting to what it believes will be a younger, domestic market by adding new food items such as bannock tacos and bannock doughnuts. They’re also selling handmade face masks designed by Squamish and Cree artists.

New safety protocols mean a change to their traditional guided tours: instead of a group led by a guide, now groups move from station to station where guides doing traditional crafts welcomes them.

“We’re trying to survive during this pandemic by opening our doors, sharing our culture and looking for resources to further expand it,” she said.

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