L to R Michael Antonietti, TD Canada Trust – Marathon, Ontario; Cameron Clark, GATT Steering Committee and TCT Board member; Tony Hanson, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg FN; Florinda Christianson: Tourism Manager, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg FN and Louis Nabigon: Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation Councillor
On April 20, 2016 at the Trailhead North Summit held in Marathon, Ontario, Trans Canada Trail (TCT) proudly presented a cheque for $50,000 to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation. These funds will spearhead significant eco-tourism development through the TCT’s Grants for Aboriginal Trail Tourism (GATT) Program.
The GATT program was developed by TCT and TD Bank Group to enable the development of tourism initiatives by Aboriginal communities and/or Aboriginal entrepreneurs. Eligible tourism initiatives were required to target TCT users as customers across Northern Ontario from North Bay to the Manitoba border.
Applications were assessed by the GATT Steering Committee on a variety of criteria including how the proposed initiative will serve trail users, a creative approach, a sustainability plan and other factors. Ultimately, after careful review, five exciting Trail projects were successful in their applications.
GATT Steering Committee and TCT Board member Cameron Clark presented the $50,000 cheque alongside Michael Antonietti, Branch Manager, TD Canada Trust, Marathon, Ontario, to Tony Hanson, Pic River Councillor holding the trails portfolio. “The GATT Committee members were inspired by the vision of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation,” said Clark.
“We were delighted to receive a submission from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation for a trails and interpretation project that would enable visitors to experience their majestic sand dunes while at the same time ensuring that these wonders of nature were celebrated and preserved for future generations,” he said.
GATT Steering Committee chair Kevin Eshkawkogan said, “GATT is very pleased to assist Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation further develop accessibility to the Pic River in a reasonable and responsible manner. It is this type of work and product development that will grow the tourism industry for the benefit of all.”
To be included in the project are interpretive signage, trailhead signage and directional signage from the highway as roadway signage to help direct people to the beach and provide educational opportunities of culture and history.
Duncan Michano, Chief of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation said that TCT’s and TD Bank Group’s support of Aboriginal trails tourism projects align with his beliefs.
“I am a strong advocate for trails. Wilderness trails get people out on the land and strengthen their ties with the land, the history and the ecosystems they are hiking through. There are also health benefits associated with physical exercise while hiking,” he said.
To view more photos from the event, click here.
For more information on Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation, click here.