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Developing Indigenous Cultural Authenticity Guidelines

Deadline for Submissions:
September 9, 2022 at 11:50pm ET

Proposals are to be submitted to:
Gail Jacko, Operations and Strategic Initiatives Manager [email protected]


Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) is the province’s frst and only dedicated Indigenous tourism organization that focuses on uniting communities, Indigenous organizations, and industry leaders to support the growth of Indigenous tourism in Ontario. ITO is a member-based organization and provides access to invaluable marketing, sales, and business development programs that build capacity to produce high quality Indigenous tourism products and services. ITO engages with Indigenous owned and operated businesses at all levels of market readiness and places emphasis on contributors to the industry at the grassroots level, which may include traditional Knowledge Keepers, land-based guides, cultural artisans and makers, cultural performers, chefs and culinary artists, cultural entrepreneurs, and more. Success at ITO is guided by the positive impact on our people, environment, and economy.


Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) is seeking qualifed frms to produce a set of provincial Indigenous Cultural Authenticity guidelines focusing on maintaining the integrity of Indigenous cultural traditions and practices when developing, marketing and delivering Indigenous tourism experiences and products to visitors.

Research has confrmed that for travelers interested in experiencing Indigenous tourism, authenticity is a large consideration afecting a consumer’s purchasing decision. Visitors are looking to be actively involved in learning about culture, tradition, art, food, storytelling and history through small intimate group travel.

Indigneous tourism provides a highly experiential and enriching experience, giving the traveler meaningful connections to the destination and way of life. Indigenous tourism can be a powerful form of reconciliation as it helps to build a greater understanding and relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

ITO currently has a membership of 500 businesses, organizations and communities from a vast array of business sectors looking to move forward with current economic conditions and challenges. It is in this challenging time that Indigenous entrepreneurs look to enhance existing products, develop new products, and market and promote out of the norm, pivoting to address current issues and trends. ITO has identifed a gap in existing resources and tools for Indigenous tourism development. ITO would like to provide Indigenous businesses with guidelines that promote responsible business conduct by protecting and preserving Indigenous values, beliefs, cultures, and traditions.


Indigenous cultural tourism features tourism businesses that are majority owned, operated and/or controlled by First Nations, Métis or Inuit peoples and which demonstrate a connection and responsibility to the local Indigenous community and traditional territory where the operation is based. In addition, a signifcant portion of the experience features a distinct Indigenous culture in a manner that is appropriate, respectful, and true. Authenticity lies in the active involvement of Indigenous people in the development and delivery of the experience.

A culture belongs to the community and its people, it is essential to ensure the culture is protected for future generations. All tourism products that share our culture should be developed and delivered in a way that supports the community it represents.

Cultural authenticity is important to a community, to a nation, as it allows us to efectively function with all cultures, respect and value other cultures, and can reduce cultural barriers and stigmas. The purpose of this project is to produce a clear set of guidelines refecting best practices and a path forward towards building awareness and respect to Indigenous peoples, values, and beliefs on a broad scale. The goal is to create tools and best practices for developing culturally authentic Indigenous experiences; ultimately delivering entrepreneurial support that aims to preserve, respect, and build strong integrity around the sharing of Indigenous teachings, practices and knowledge in the tourism context and beyond.


The chosen frm will be responsible for developing a set of Indigenous cultural authenticity guidelines and implementation strategy in conjunction with the Indigenous Cultural Authenticity Advisory Committee. It is anticipated that the research and development of the guidelines will require research, generating both meaningful and sensitive information.


In commencing the project, the successful proponent will clearly identify best practices across all

Indigenous tourism sectors:

  • Consumer perceptions of Indigenous tourism experiences
  • Indigenous cultural authentication guidelines
  • Indigenous entrepreneurship vetting and implementation guidelines
  • Analysis of Indigenous led tourism guidelines and assessment tools

These fndings will beneft from and be built upon by previous studies that have been conducted. The successful proponent of this project will be responsible for reviewing, incorporating, and updating as required previous materials developed by ITO pertaining to the cultural authenticity of Indigenous tourism businesses in Ontario.


All proposal submissions must be received by no later than September 9, 2022, and the successful recipient will be notifed by no later than September 23, 2022. It is anticipated that work will commence by October 3, 2022. All work associated with this project and subsequent reporting must be completed by no later than February 24, 2023.

Activity Date/Time
RFP Closing September 9, 2022 at 11:50pm ET
Finalist Bidder Interviews (if required) By Appointment
Consultant Selection Complete September 23, 2022
Contract with Consultant Upon Signing
Anticipated Project Launch October 3, 2022
Anticipated Project Completion Date February 24, 2023


The chosen proponent will have substantial experience in Indigenous relations and a high level understanding of Indigenous knowledge, traditions, cultural practices, and all aspects of entrepreneurship.

  • Understanding and consideration of Indigenous research methodologies, philosophies, and worldviews as well as social considerations
  • Strong knowledge of Indigenous perspectives and views, and a deep understanding of Indigenous culture
  • Familiarity with the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada, particularly Ontario
  • The awarded proponent will have knowledge of First Nation, Metis, Inuit interests and possess and understanding of all Indigenous cultures in Ontario
  • Understanding of the importance and benefts of cross cultural communications, being able to understand and acknowledge other values and beliefs with those of whom are from a diferent background.


Proposals are to include information pertaining to each of these categories listed and will be assessed based on the following weighted evaluation criteria:

  1. Firm Qualifcations & Project Team 20%
  2. Research Methodology & Project Workplan 40%
  3. Budget & Schedule 20%
  4. Past Experience & References 20%


Proposals are to be submitted via email to Gail Jacko, Operations and Strategic Initiatives Manager at Indigenous Tourism Ontario at [email protected] Responses must be submitted via email in PDF format. In order to be considered, proponents must submit a complete proposal on or before the deadline, including the following to a maximum of 8 – 10 pages.

  • Cover Letter indicating how the frm endeavours to make this project special
  • Research methodology
  • An explanation of how the responding frm will engage Indigenous advisors and Indigenous content in conducting the work requested
  • Detailed work plan and project deliverables
  • A clear and detailed project budget (including travel) and timeline
  • Firm qualifcations and project team
  • Past experience and references (including examples working with Indigenous businesses and organizations)

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