When we leave our community, we are then guests of another. And being a good guest requires being respectful of the people who call this place home, and to the fellow travellers we share the roads, trails, and waterways with. Stories in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast are shared both through the stories of modern-day locals; and the written and oral histories of Indigenous, colonial, and immigrated cultures that helped shape our region. Each community and destination will make your trip unique, unforgettable, and oftentimes transformational.
What does community and cultural respect look like? Well, from the products we buy to the experiences we have and the friends we make, it has a greater ripple-effect than you may think.
Respect for the cultures who’ve always called this place home
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region is home to 9 prominent Indigenous nations. There is no better way to understand and respect Indigenous culture, history, protocols, language, and traditions than by learning from the communities themselves through Indigenous tourism experiences. It’s important to understand that each Indigenous nation contains their own language dialect, traditions, stories and cultural practices that are at different stages of preservation. Many ways of practicing traditional culture and identity have been lost over time or through colonial suppression. Some traditions, practices, and stories are closely held for members of the community and not for tourists. However, if you are invited or able to participate in any part of Indigenous culture, the experience is both rewarding and personally revealing. Just as you would when you travel abroad, lead with your curiosity and respectfully ask questions; ask for common names and pronunciations (this is actually polite and encouraged). It’s better to try than to not try at all. Often, we learn about how these lands have always been their pantry, medicine cabinet, and their home, and we learn how we too can care for Mother Earth and each other. Being stewards of the land has always been the Indigenous way of life. Find out where you can explore Indigenous experiences and accommodations on our Indigenous Experiences page.
Respect for communities
Keeping communities safe means accepting all visitors and locals for who they are regardless of where they come from, how they identify, or who they love. It means always respecting the environment and adhering to community health and safety guidelines while being mindful that things may be a bit different in other places than they are where you’re from. As we all learn and adapt to ever-changing environments, we must be cognizant of everyone else’s comfort levels and situational awareness, even outdoors and on the trail. It’s important to understand that many rural communities have limited infrastructure to handle unnecessary strains, such as emergency responses for those that visit unprepared. Coming prepared to minimize as many risks as possible in your journey ensures not only your experience but is in itself respectful to your hosts. Do your due diligence and research any restrictions and health guidelines of individual communities and businesses prior to your visit.
Buying and supporting local
Coming prepared means planning ahead and checking your supplies before leaving your community, but that doesn’t mean you should buy everything before visiting the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. As you journey up through the Fraser River Valley, you’ll notice the abundance in lush farmland bordering the scenic riverside cliffs, and this farmland produces exactly what you’ll find at fresh farmers’ markets throughout the region. This is the type of place where you will find those fresh, roadside fruit and veggie stands, so be sure to carry cash. And for fresh markets throughout the region, The BC Farmers’ Market Association is a great resource. Support local by shopping at local grocery stores (often stocked with local produce), local coffee shops, and the many unique Cariboo Chilcotin Coast stores you’ll find throughout the region. For a list of unique businesses with home-grown goods, check out our Agri-Tourism page.
Many Cariboo Chilcotin Coast residents have an invested interest in welcoming visitors who are respectful and responsible. There are many stories to be shared, products to try, and people to meet, and this region looks forward to showing what makes it so special when you visit next.
Jonny Bierman is a published sustainable travel journalist, photographer, and writer for his business www.ecoescape.travel. His purpose-driven content explains how travel can be used as a force for good to help protect the environment, empower communities, and preserve culture.