In the niche of cultural tourism – and a characteristic for many traveling into the arctic regions of Canada – it was noted in the market research that these educated, intrepid travelers try to “learn everything about their destination BEFORE arriving”. In other words, the destination becomes a passion for them during the pre-trip stages of their experience. They travel not so much to learn something new for the first time, as they do to validate what they have already learned.
This purchasing behavior presented a problem for the local Inuit guides as it established client expectations that were befuddling and frequently led to their ‘local and cultural expertise’ to be undermined, challenged, or even dismissed. This created friction during the trip and detracted from the overall enjoyment of the experience for both guides and clients alike.
To help address this element, we envisioned a series of training resources for Nunavik guides and tour operators that would present both Inuit and non-Inuit accounts on various topics of interest. In this way, the young Inuit guides could become more knowledgeable about their own culture; become better able to anticipate the stories that their guests may have researched prior to their visit; and also provide the framework to then enhance that information with stories from their own personal experiences.
The first of this series was (finally) printed this month, titled “An Introduction to the Inuit Culture and Heritage of Nunavik”. By all accounts, it has been very well received and has already earned the nickname, “The Little Red Book”. Special thanks to co-author/editor Virginie Chadenet, the Kativik Regional Government, Avataq Cultural Institute, and all the local individuals and organizations who generously volunteered their time and stories to make this project a success. Nakurmiik!