At Pursuit, we have the great privilege of showcasing spectacular landscapes and unparalleled experiences.
We recognize that there are people whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries, and it's with immense gratitude that we foster and grow our Indigenous partnerships. Nurturing and strengthening these relationships create new platforms for unheard voices, encouraging more meaningful experiences for all involved.
In Alberta's breathtaking Canadian Rockies, the experiences we offer are located on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Stoney Nakoda and many other Indigenous People, who have walked this region since time immemorial. Their connection to the land is immeasurable, and the knowledge they gift us, invaluable. While Pursuit's friendship with the Stoney People dates back over a century to the Brewster family’s guiding operations, the journey of enhancing our experiences to incorporate their teachings, culture, and stories is only just beginning.
In 2021, we built on the past success of our Stoney Storytelling training by expanding the offering to all guides at the Minnewanka and Maligne Lake cruises, as well as our Columbia Icefield Interpretive Coordinators. The educational experience was led by Wyanne Smallboy-Wesley of the Stoney Education Authority and Elder Barry Wesley and has been transformative for our team.
Guides at Lake Minnewanka learned about Piché, Wyanne’s ancestor who guided the Palliser expedition in 1841 and of whom the formidable mountain (Mount Peechee) is named after. Our Maligne Lake guides were shown how to greet the water in the traditional language of the area. One of our team members now begins every day at the lake with her hands in the water, repeating the prayer she was taught: Amba Wathtetch, Chaba Imne, Ishnyish.
In English, this translates to "I wish you a good day; I acknowledge all of the good and am receptive to all of the good that's still to come. Maligne Lake. Thank You." Our guide also shares this greeting with local and international guests, who return home with a deeper connection to the land and culture.
We also partnered with the Stoney People on the Cooks with Stones culinary educational initiative. The six-week program for Stoney students included three weeks of Indigenous cultural training and a three-week culinary internship in Pursuit's restaurant kitchens. During this time, we provided daily bus service to our restaurants, Farm + Fire, Tony Roma’s and the Banff Gondola's Sky Bistro atop Sulphur Mountain. We're thrilled to be expanding the program in 2022 and beyond.
Perhaps the most innovative collaboration of 2021 was the new Nightrise experience at the Banff Gondola. We worked closely with the Stoney Nakoda Nation and the multimedia studio Moment Factory to create the winter night spectacle, featuring Stoney language, original music scores, soundscape and illumination.
Making this project even more unique is the fact that the content was community-driven by the Stoney People, resulting in a beautiful cultural showcase of song, music and story. In celebration of our friendship, we signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding at a pipe ceremony in Sky Bistro, with representatives from the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley councils. All Stoney Nation members receive complimentary Banff Gondola passes throughout the inaugural year of Nightrise.
Sending our gratitude to the Stoney Nation for their willingness to share their culture with our team and guests from around the world. In the spirit of reconciliation, we look forward to continuing and expanding our relationships with our Indigenous friends. Ishnyish.
We are building a team of passionate people determined to make a difference in the places we love. Every effort counts. Meet more of them here and discover how Promise to Place is the real deal.