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Community Tourism

Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve (Ontario)

The peoples of the Three Fire Confederacy - the Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi - say that when the Great Spirit, the Gitchi Manitou, was creating the world, he made a special place for himself: an island in which he combined the best of all the parts of his creation - water, air and earth. Today, the island of Manitou is still known by his name, we call it Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin Island lies near the north shore of Lake Huron, southwest of Sudbury and North Bay. It is the largest fresh water island in the world. People have lived on the island for more than 30,000 years. Today, the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve covers 417 square kilometers on the Manitoulin's eastern peninsula. It is home to 2,700 people, with another 3,600 members who live off reserve. Locally the people of Wikwemikong call themselves Wiky. Their reserve is the only unceded reserve in Canada. This means that they never signed any treaties with the government and still lay claim to the lands of the ancestors.

Manitoulin Island is a popular summer vacation spot for many people. A good deal of business in Wikwemikong focuses on the tourist industry. The reserve has a marina, a golf course and a number of tour companies, one of which runs islands tour with all-terrain-vehicles or ATVs.

ATVs were developed in Japan as a farm-to-town vehicles for isolated, mountainous areas. During spring thaws and rainy seasons steep mountains roads were often impassable with conventional vehicles, so ATVs became a very popular mode of transportation. When they were imported to Turtle Island, they immediately became popular, especially in rural and remote communities where they could travel over land which was impassable by other vehicles.

WaWashkesh Wilderness ATV Tours runs 2-hour and day-long tours of areas in and around Wikwemikong, including Be-Nong-Ghong (The Cliffs) and Mid-Weh-Ghong (Where-you-can-hear-the-rapids). The tours are fun, and designed to show people areas of the island they wouldn't normally be able to visit. WaWashkesh is also very safety conscious. ATVs often have little or no built-in suspension and balloon wheels, these features make them fun and bouncy, but also very unstable. To avoid injuries and accidents WaWashkesh insists all clients wear helmets, ride with a guide who knows the land, and drive at safe speeds.

For more information check out www.quadtours.com.

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Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada

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