Publication Date

Winter 2016

Document Type

Refereed academic paper for presentation



Eskasoni First Nation is the largest Mi’kmaq-speaking community in the world. With a population of more than 4300, Eskasoni is one of the five Mi’kmaq communities located on Unama’ki (Cape Breton Island), Canada. The community has been engaged in tourism development for decades, with varying degrees of success, until a new approach was considered – that being the community-led product of Eskasoni Cultural Journeys (ECJ). Eskasoni Cultural Journeys started at a grassroots level with Elder buy-in and initial Elder training in tourism. Today Eskasoni Cultural Journeys offers boat tours on the Bras d’Or Lake and authentic interpretive programming along the trails of Goat Island.

This research examined the development of Eskasoni Cultural Journeys, now a successful and award-winning program, which developed through a gradual community-led process and highlights an example of a community-led Aboriginal tourism project that has been successful in its development stages. Successes and challenges of the project related to four aspects of sustainability (social, cultural, economic and environmental) are outlined and recommendations offered for future development as well as considerations to ensure the project continues well in to the future.