August 16, 2019
To help maximize Wrigley’s success in the tourism industry, Jocelyn Skeard of Pehdzeh Ki First Nation (PKFN) took advantage of the GNWT’s popular Business Mentorship Program. The program provides opportunities and resources for interested NWT tourism operators to learn and benefit from experienced business owners.
Jocelyn wears many hats at the PKFN, she is the Assistant to the SAO and the Tourism Development Officer for the area. She says, “Wrigley undoubtedly has tourism potential.” It sits high overlooking the Mackenzie River and centred between the Franklin and Mackenzie mountain ranges. The beautiful, quaint community is the last stop along the Heritage Route, or Highway 1. Jocelyn recognized this as a tourism opportunity and has taken steps to make it a reality.
Last year, she connected with ITI’s Stephanie Hardisty and Jennifer Thistle in Fort Simpson and they encouraged her to apply for the mentorship program.
Jocelyn said, “Stephanie and Jennifer were really excited to have me join the program and helped me every step of the way.” She continued by saying, “The application process was really straight forward and ITI was there to answer any questions I had.”
Once accepted into the program, Jocelyn spent the next year paired with two seasoned business professionals from British Columbia. Susan Haddon, a business consultant from Victoria and CESO mentor, worked with Jocelyn one-on-one to develop a business plan that positioned Wrigley as a viable tourist destination, and get the funds the Hamlet needed. The second mentor, Judy Martin, also from BC and part of CESO, helped Jocelyn develop a marketing plan which details how Wrigley will be promoted as a travel destination to NWT residents and travelers south of 60th parallel.
“My experience with Susan was very positive,” Jocelyn explains. “What I really enjoyed is how versatile and adaptable she was. Right away she was excited and supportive of our goal.”
She adds that Susan had a lot of experience and great ideas to help the community achieve what they never had before, while keeping our local culture and traditions at the centre of tourism development plans.
The development of the business plan and marketing plan identified what Wrigley has and what is needed to mount a successful tourism operation. For example, there is already capacity for river tours that offer canoeing, kayaking and hiking, but improvements are needed to infrastructure like campgrounds, signage and trail networks.
Ultimately, Jocelyn and her peers want to build a thriving industry. “[We want to see] a full tourism industry offering all-season activities, specializing in our Dene way of life,” she says.
“Some of the activities we would like to offer are river tours, hiking, wildlife viewing in the warmer season, and aurora viewing, skiing, snowshoeing during the winter. “
Since Jocelyn took the wheel, PKFN has been working to secure funding for all these endeavors and more.
Jocelyn Skeard and Susan Haddon. Credit: Jocelyn Skeard
An important piece of the puzzle is already underway: visitors’ services – something Jocelyn is enthusiastic to talk about. We are now developing our Visitor Information Centre and tourism operation headquarters to take the next step in being business and market ready.”
Construction is slated to wrap up by the end of the month, with a grand opening expected in the New Year.
Credit: Jocelyn Skeard
The Tourism Business Mentorship Program is designed to help tourism professionals take the next step in their careers.
Applications are open now! For full details on the Tourism Business Mentorship Program and information on how to apply, visit www.iti.gov.nt.ca/en/BMP