Allies in Exploration
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How can we act as good allies when we travel and explore in Western Canada?
As summer days lengthen and provincial travel restrictions ease, there is more to consider than just physical health and wellness. When it comes to travel there is also a question of conscience.
How can we be good allies to Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) and other minority groups in our travel and recreational choices? The good news is that at the same time as the pandemic shrinks our range it also opens the possibility of travelling in a more conscientious, respectful way.
Travel and social change go hand-in-hand
“Travel is a great economic driver but I don’t think people realize how much of a social change it can truly make,” says Mackenzie Brown, project manager at Indigenous Tourism Alberta.
Brown hails from Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation. For many years she has performed as one half of the Indigenous drumming and singing duo Warrior Women, along with her mother.
“It can be as simple as taking in an experience from an (Indigenous) community, or supporting different businesses when you travel.”
Let go of assumptions
When you show up, Ravi Thaker advises, try your best not to carry assumptions into the experience. “I get a lot of people talking to me on the phone because I own a rafting company, they hear me and then when they see me, it’s different. That hurts.”
Thaker, who operates The Paddle Station in Calgary, is of South Asian descent but grew up in apartheid-era Africa with a father who was a freedom fighter in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. He has felt injustice and hate firsthand. As a result, he’s also learned some of the tools and attitudes that help to combat racism or prejudice.
“Be angry, but also have a plan,” he says. “People trashed our Pride flags at The Paddle Station last year, and I wanted to be all angry, but you know what I did? I went out and got 100 more Pride flags.”
For Thaker, being an ally means more than just speaking out. It means working towards change -- starting in your own neighbourhood. “When you are participating in your community, that means engagement. It means taking time out of your day to find out about another human being. When you do that, you will start to have a better idea of how to help.”
Tourism experiences are a safe place to ask uncomfortable questions
With knowledge, comes responsibility
Find a deeper connection to nature
Leave apathy behind as you transform
Travel and experience resources
Check your provincial government advisories and local indigenous communities for travel restrictions, safe travel and health safety measures before you travel:
Travel advisory: https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-travel-advice.aspx
Some travel & Cultural experiences in BC
Some travel & Cultural experiences in Alberta
Here's one more way to support BIPOC/Minority communities in Western Canada: Spirit North.