January 9, 2018
Dene hand games, drumming, and ice-fishing are just a few of the cultural activities available at B. Dene Adventures, a tourism company based in Dettah and Yellowknife. Bobby Drygeese is the mind behind the company but he says it was his grandma that inspired him to share his culture. In her 103 years, she shared her traditions, history and stories with friends and families, and now Bobby shares those same insights with visitors to the NWT.
"People are interested in traditional culture in the NWT and it’s exciting to share what I know and how I grew up. The whole idea is to be true to yourself. I take pride in knowing that I’m sharing authentic experiences and respecting the land,” Bobby explains.
He first thought of the idea of running a cultural tourism business 15 years ago but didn’t go into operation until 2009. Several ITI programs helped to take his ideas from concept to reality, including the Support to Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) program and the Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing Program, which provided funding for equipment to get his business started.
It’s safe to say that Bobby’s path in the tourism industry has been an exciting one. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Will and Kate, visited Yellowknife in 2011, Bobby had the chance to speak to them personally about the NWT’s rich Indigenous culture. He was also on the hit CBC show Arctic Air where he performed with the Yellowknives Dene Drummers.
From rubbing elbows with royals to behind-the-scenes moments on TV sets, Bobby’s work is exciting; however, he says his favourite part is getting to work with the friends and family.
“These are people that I grew up with. We hunted together and fished together and now we work together to show guests how we grew up,” Bobby says.
Since its inception the company has grown to include aurora viewing, cultural city tours and ice road tours.
It’s a lot of hard work but the guests appreciate it. At the end of each day, Bobby knows that they leave with an experience of the Dene culture that will resonate with them long after they return home.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) has released the first Performance & Measures Report for the 2013 NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy. It includes formal performance measures of the Strategy’s goals and objectives alongside success stories about NWT residents whose work and investments are contributing to the economic strength and prosperity of their communities and the economy.