The Songhees nation is working to expand their tourism sector by putting forth a new tour and trail system by 2022.
The Songhees Indigenous Marine Trail highlights a network of 12 significant cultural and recreational sites located along the shorelines of Lekwungen Territory which include:
- Songhees Wellness Centre
- Fort Rodd Hill/Fisgard Lighthouse
- Royal Roads
- Salish Seaside RV Haven
- Victoria Internal Marina
- Songhees Point
- Inner Harbour
- Breakwater at Ogden Point
- Meeqan – Beacon Hill Park
- Oak Bay Marina/Oak Bay Beach Hotel
- Tl’ches (Songhees Islands) AKA Discovery Island Marine Park
- Cadboro Bay
The intention is for the tour to start in 2022 when it is safe to do so.
The news comes after fifty-four new tourism projects throughout B.C. were announced to receive funding under the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program’s (CERIP) destination development stream.
“The destination development funding invests in implementation-ready tourism infrastructure and amenities projects that support the recovery and resilience of tourism. It creates jobs and develops infrastructure that will attract visitors to B.C. communities when travel resumes,” said the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport in a statement.
Funding for the CERIP destination development stream will total almost $20 million.
Successful projects were chosen for their demonstrated tourism benefits to communities and British Columbians, along with new jobs, many of which will provide employment for apprentices, youth, new Canadians, women and First Nations.
The province provided $637,900 for the Songhees nation’s trail and tour.
For Cecilia Dick, the new trail is not only a way to boost tourism, it’s a way to connect the Songhees Nation and Lekwungen People to their history.
“We’ve lost so much, and now, we’re getting back. What we’re creating is a destination for ourselves, the locals, and visitors to immerse and understand our culture,” said Dick, cultural tourism supervisor for the Songhees Nation.
“It’s an amazing time for Our people – there’s so much opportunity for all generations.”
The tour and trail will expand a network of trails and tours important to the Songhees Nation’s history which can be accessed by land or sea.
The Songhees nation will procure a 12 passenger beach landing vessel for accessibility to destinations by sea.
The new tour will enhance the Songhees nation’s visitor experiences they currently have and will also create more jobs for the Lekwungen people.
“The tour and trail will contribute to the story of this land – a story we’ve only been taught 200 years of. Tourism, and this trail, is a great way to expand the breadth of the story beyond those 200 years,” said Karma Brophy, Tourism Development Consultant.
Before public health orders due to COVID-19, the Songhees nation offered canoe tours, the seven signs of the Lekwungen tour, bannock making, storytelling, art demonstrations and workshops, among others.