When Frank Antoine and Greg Hopf launched Moccasin Trails in 2016, they wanted to fill a noticeable gap in the tourism industry – an industry in which they both worked. At the time, British Columbia’s interior Thompson Okanagan region was welcoming approximately three million visitors a year* and while many were seeking out authentic Indigenous experiences, there were only a handful of Indigenous-owned businesses in operation.

“We knew we had a story to tell and life experiences we wanted to share with the world,” Hopf explains when asked about the company’s origins. “We are the most stereotyped people in our country. We wanted to educate the world on the diversity of Indigenous culture and how we’re not all the same.”

Moccasin Trails currently offers group tours and corporate retreats that share authentic and fully immersive Indigenous experiences.

On the River “Setétkwe” Tour in Kamloops – the most popular of their offerings – guests don’t just learn about the local Indigenous culture, they experience it firsthand through shared stories, songs, food and ceremonies, led by a local member of the Secwépemc people who has called the Shuswap area home for hundreds of years. On this guided canoe tour, participants paddle along the South Thompson River and embark on a spiritual and emotional journey, passing by a former residential school and pausing for a moment of silence, and participating in open conversations about the connection between the land and the Secwépemc people, expressed in an authentic and meaningful way.

Indigenous Tourism BC / Brendin Kelly / Moccasin TrailsIndigenous Tourism BC / Brendin Kelly / Moccasin Trails

Other day tours offered in both Kelowna and Kamloops combine immersive outdoor experiences with first-person storytelling, a defining feature of Moccasin Trails. “After every experience, our guests leave with more knowledge about and understanding of our culture,” says Hopf. “They become ambassadors; they share the information with their friends and help spread the word. We see this ripple effect of breaking down the stereotypes and that gives us pride in what we do,” he affirms.

In November 2021, Moccasin Trails introduced a new five-day Indigenous Cultural Journey With People, Land, and Traditions tour package, which takes guests on excursions through three regions of the Thompson Okanagan: Kelowna, Kamloops and Osoyoos. Throughout the journey, guests experience the diversity of the Indigenous nations of the Syilx and Secwépemc people, participating in powwows, touring historical sites and sampling Indigenous food and wine.

“We want guests to enjoy Indigenous meals cooked over an open fire at the home of a local and hear stories of grassroots people like Frank’s hockey buddy who talks about his life growing up Indigenous on his family’s ranch,” Hopf describes of this new cross-regional tour that will be offered twice-monthly from May to October in 2022.

On the most rewarding part of offering authentic Indigenous tours through Moccasin Trails, Hopf shares, “There’s a pride in sharing our culture. We’re proud of who we are and where we come from. We’re grateful to do it in an educational setting.”

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To learn more about Moccasin Trails or to make a booking, visit indigenousbc.com/moccasin-trails

To discover more Indigenous experiences and business in British Columbia, visit IndigenousBC.com 

This article was sponsored by Indigenous Tourism BC.