Alert Bay is a former fishing village and home to the acclaimed U’mista Cultural Centre, incorporated in 1974, which is Canada’s longest-running First Nations museum and cultural centre.
In 2015, the Village of Alert Bay and the ‘Namgis First Nation collaborated on a joint, award-winning economic development strategy called ‘Tides of Change.’ The strategy gave a high priority to growing tourism and micro-entrepreneurship on Cormorant Island – identifying a number of key visitor amenities and business supports that could enhance tourism readiness within a short time frame.
With support from ICET’s Quick Start funding stream, historical signage was installed along the waterfront, including five interpretive signs complementing traditional awak’was structures and carvings. Signage was also repaired and replaced along Cormorant Island’s established network of recreation trails – enhanced to feature points of interest such as culturally modified tress and distinctive species. In order to increase exposure of micro-entrepreneurs, four semi-permanent vendor kiosks were also designed and installed near the U’mista Cultural Centre, cruise ship dock and other central visitor locations.
The project, led by the Village of Alert Bay, put the ‘Tides of Change’ strategy into action by delivering key amenities that are having an immediate beneficial impact to the local tourism economy. Improved signage has enhanced the tourism experience for visitors arriving and exploring Cormorant island, and provided cultural interpretation that could be incorporated into regional tourism itineraries. The kiosks have enabled micro-vendors to sell crafts, food and participate more regularly in the local tourism economy. The project was completed in 2017.