In Canada, business events deliver powerful cultural experiences
To successfully unite your hybrid team, inspire your top performers and retain your elite talent, your incentive travel program must adapt to the latest insights into the most desired rewards.
According to the 2023 Incentive Travel Index, group cultural experiences are the most appreciated incentive travel activities—and in Canada, we can make this reward a reality.
Canada is home to a kaleidoscope of vibrant cultures, including the distinct Indigenous traditions, languages and identities that have evolved here since time immemorial.
Destination Canada takes pride in this diversity, leading the way in cultural sustainability, to ensure incentive travel and meetings hosted here help nurture and support local cultures.
We put this commitment into practice on Canada Night at 2023 IMEX America in Las Vegas, hosting an Indigenous fashion show by Stephanie Eagletail that wowed attendees.
Promoting a deeper cultural understanding
In 2022 and 2023, she took her unique fashion line to New York Fashion Week—and began sharing her skills and culture in workshops for Indigenous communities across Canada.
Now, Eagletail is preparing to offer these workshops to international corporate teams, teaching traditional sewing techniques, incorporating cultural practices and sharing her own journey.
“I’m Dene and half-Cree, and one thing I’ve been taught is that we always share — from our traditions to our language to our ceremonies,” Eagletail said.
“For me, sharing the practice of coat-making is a powerful way to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of our cultures.”
Her workshops also support her own intergenerational healing process.
“My parents went to residential school and my grandparents did as well. I’m a third-generation survivor,” said Eagletail.
“In my classes, I touch a lot on how I’ve overcome this intergenerational trauma. My story resonates with people who are Indigenous and non-Indigenous.”
Coat making workshops offer confidence and joy
Eagletail's journey began with a Pow Wow. Aged just 17, Eagletail adored the jackets worn at this celebration of Indigenous cultures through music and dance and asked her mom for one.
However, these jackets cost up to $2,000, so instead, her mom bought a blanket, lining and buttons. With help from her mom and aunt, Eagletail made her first jacket.
Fast forward to today and her fashion designs are more popular than ever. Eagletail crafts each jacket by hand from high-quality wool materials.
Meanwhile, through her workshops, she teaches participants the skills passed down through generations in her family, taking measurements, making patterns and creating blanket jackets.
As well as coat making, Eagletail’s workshops also include a traditional smudging ceremony, burning medicinal plants to cleanse, heal and bless the participants and the place.
The idea to expand these workshops beyond Indigenous communities came to Eagletail in 2022, when a friend suggested she give a sewing workshop to an Alberta women’s group.
“One of the reasons why I love what I do is that I get to meet new people and empower them through sewing,” Eagletail said.
“It’s so rewarding to see their confidence, pride and joy as they put on their own custom-made coats. It becomes an heirloom that they’ll have for generations.”
That workshop proved popular—Eagletail has now taught more than 250 people—and she is eager to share this unique cultural experience with incentive winners and corporate teams.
Reaping the rewards of cultural sustainability
Her colourful creations illuminated the catwalk, as a diverse group of models from across Canada took turns strutting their stuff in front of a jubilant, standing-room-only crowd.
Cozy blanket coats adorned with ornate beading, leather tassels and fluffy, oversized cuffs and collars created a kaleidoscope of black, white, teal, ochre, scarlet, lilac and even metallic pink.
The opportunity for Destination Canada to support Eagletail at IMEX America meant a lot to Jennifer Attersall, Acting Senior Director, Business Events.
“It was fantastic to be able to showcase Indigenous culture and experiences in such a vibrant way, as part of Destination Canada’s commitment to socio-cultural sustainability,” said Attersall.
“Experiences like these are entirely authentic to a destination. It gives our audience a deep understanding of the practices of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and enables them to connect with local cultures in a way that is not possible elsewhere.”
This kind of special cultural experience is exactly why Canada is leading cultural sustainability in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry.
Events and incentives hosted in Canada are deeply enhanced by our broad array of cultures, elevating meeting agendas and offering top performers unique inspirational moments.
By sharing these cultural experiences with your team or attendees, together, we can help preserve cultures for future generations—and empower everyone to reap the rewards.
Looking to learn more about events and incentives in Canada? Get in touch with the team directly through Jennifer Attersall, Acting Senior Director, Business Events, Destination Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 403-923-5972.