The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre has won a prestigious tourism award for the second year in a row.
It has been recognized by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. with the 2013 B.C. Cultural Centre and Attractions of the Year award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in Aboriginal businesses and raises awareness about the ever-growing Aboriginal tourism industry in B.C.
"This recognition confirms our on-going commitment to sharing indigenous culture in meaningful and authentic ways," said Casey Vanden Heuvel, executive director of the SLCC, who received the award along with human resources and training coordinator, Cheximiya (Allison Burns) of the Squamish Nation.
"Squamish and Lil'wat ambassadors work very hard to bring their cultures to life for our guests and also help revive many cultural traditions of the local First Nations."
Said Cheximiya (Allison Burns): "We are very proud to share our culture at the SLCC every day and also very proud of an award that shows that we do a great job of creating meaningful experiences for our guests."
The award was presented by Keith Henry, CEO of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC (ATBC), at a gala dinner on April 4 in Osoyoos, B.C. during the National Aboriginal Tourism Opportunities Conference.
"The SLCC represents a strong sense of authentic Aboriginal cultural tourism," said Henry. "It has overcome many challenges and as an industry we are so proud of their success. Thank you to the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations for their support and efforts to share their cultures with the world. This award symbolizes their commitment to creating and delivering a world-class experience."
The SLCC had a busy year in 2012 including:
• Holding the inaugural Spirit Within Festival — an Aboriginal festival of music, art and cuisine that will be held for the second time this September 26 – 29, 2013;
• Creating new opportunities for cultural awareness such as the Rocky Mountaineer Storytelling program — a program where graduates from the Aboriginal Youth Ambassador program are given the opportunity to share cultural knowledge and legends on the Sea to Sky train;
• It was awarded the ATBC Cultural Authenticity Award;
• And it completed the Cultural Journey Phase II and announced Phase III — a $6 million project consisting of capital, exhibition, and programming initiatives, including a cultural connector to the new Audain Art Museum and the largest Salish carving project in history.
In early May the SLCC will launch a new Rock and Tool Exhibit showcasing a sacred bowl over 1,600 years old, which was found in an archaeological dig in Squamish. The public is invited to participate in this event, which will also include a blessing ceremony for the four poles carved at the SLCC during the winter, the three AYA programs held seasonally, and the Spirit Within Festival.
There will also be a summer BBQ program running Tuesday nights from May through September.