Current projects

This project examines intersections of Indigenous livelihoods and contemporary tourism in Ontario’s “near north”, a perceptually demarcated leisure landscape among urban dwelling visitors. While social scientists have traced the production of tourism within this region, and its myriad effects on diverse groups, limited attention has focused on how First Nations in the area actively engage, relate to, or may ultimately benefit from tourism. Accordingly, objectives of this research are to:

1) understand how tourism policy and promotional landscapes complement, alter, or detract from Indigenous livelihoods;

2) collaborate with specific First Nations to identify community perspectives on using tourism to recover and maintain cultural livelihoods; and

3) interpret the effects of tourism experiences designed with First Nations on transformative learning and cross-cultural awareness.

This research seeks to address ongoing expressions and effects of settler colonialism through collaborative, multi-site investigations of the relationship between tourism and reconciliation. In Canada, and other settler states, tourism is a powerful social force that can either foster or thwart the establishment and maintenance of respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Evidence suggests that tourism’s violence includes the displacement of Indigenous Peoples from ancestral lands and more subtle practices that “tame” or commodify Indigenous cultures. Studies also show tourism’s capacity to support Indigenous autonomy over land, knowledge, development, language, and cultural change. To date, however, limited research has made the disruption of settler colonialism—or critically articulated hopeful alternatives—through tourism its explicit mandate.

This international project is funded through the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020. The project investigates “cultural sensitivity” as a core value in the development of support systems for start-ups and existing small and medium-sized enterprises offering innovative tourism products and services.

Picturing the Thelon River is an extended case study that engages different knowledges of the Thelon River watershed in Arctic Canada to cultivate enhanced understanding of, and responsible relationships to, a significant place within the context of social-ecological change. It is a community-based and participatory research project emphasizing collaborative relationships between northern Aboriginal communities, river tourists, and university researchers.

Completed projects

Critical Tourism Studies (CTS) is an international network of scholars who share a vision of producing and promoting social change in and through tourism practice, research and education. The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo and Department of Tourism Management at Thompson Rivers University were excited to co-host the inaugural CTS North America conference. The conference was held Monday, August 1 to Friday, August 5, 2016 at the Waterloo Summit Centre for Environment in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada.

In collaboration with the p.i.n.e. project, a charity-based nature education organization in Toronto, this study seeks to understand, interpret, and communicate stories associated with environmental learning, community, and nature connection.

Projects by status