The Grand Prix du Tourisme Québécois Desjardins 2010 regional gala took place in Ouje-Bougoumou, Quebec last week with more than a 100 people present. Many people were eager to see who would be going to the national gala to promote the James Bay tourism region. The food itself was delicious, Native food made in a gourmet fashion which left Natives surprised by how fancy a Native meal could look.

Among the people present were Ashley Iserhoff, Deputy Grand Chief, Mrs. Nicole Ménard, Minister of Tourism of Quebec, as well as Mr. Pierre Corbiel, The Minister of Indian Affairs, Mr. Anthony Hughboy, Deputy Chief of Ouje-Bougoumou and Cyril Chauquet, host of the television show “Mordu de la pêche”. They advocated that Northern Quebec is a great place for tourism because of its beautiful large territory, and the richness of Cree culture. Although tourism is a very competitive sector, it goes to show how gorgeous and peaceful it is in Northern Quebec. They also spoke about the many outdoor activities that can be done in Northern Quebec such as hiking, biking, snowmobiling, fishing, hunting, etc. The James Bay region has great potential for tourism because of the abundance of culture and the seclusion of being in the North where it is absolutely peaceful. The feeling of being secluded from any major cities gives peace to all when they experience Northern Quebec.

Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff also gave an analogy about tourism and the Canadian Men’s Hockey team winning gold at the Vancouver Olympics.

“We will bring home the Gold!” said Mr. Iserhoff, of course not meaning literally but in the tourism sense of bringing home the Gold Medal to tourism in the James Bay region.

There were six categories of awards given to the participants and the winners were:  “The municipality of Valcanton for the Lake Imbeau Forest” in the Outdoor and Leisure Activities Category, “the V.V.B Economic Development Corporation for the Turgeon Valley Audio Circuit: Take a Ride with Raoul Duguay” in the category Tourist Attraction: Fewer than a 100,000 visitors, “the James Bay Walleye Fishing Tournament” in the category Festival and Tourist Events- Operating Budget under $1M, “the Osprey Lodge in the Lodgings: Outfitters, “the Chalets Opémiska” in the category Lodgings: Tourism Residence, and Monique Gagné from Motel du Lac in the category Human Resources: Tourism Employee. These award winners will be representing the James Bay tourism region at the national gala which will be taking place at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal on May 7th, 2010. Also, two honourable mentions were presented and rewarded which were: The Cree Indian Center of Chibougamau, and Anna and David Bosum from Nuuchimi Wiinuu. These two honourable mentions displayed the importance of sharing Cree culture with everyone and also sharing the inter-cultural vision, so that many can realize what wonderful culture the Cree’s really are.

This gala has been organized every year for three years now and it was meant to network aboriginal and non-aboriginal people so that ideas can be expressed and aimed towards tourism in the province of Quebec. Many companies are brought together to collaborate with other companies to encourage growth in the tourism sector of Quebec so that more tourists come up to Quebec instead of going down south.

“Tourism is great way to develop local economy” said Deputy Chief of Ouje-Bougoumou, Anthony Hughboy.

Ouje-Bougoumou uses tourism as a tool to help economic growth and to also show the beautiful aspect of nature. To share this view with others it must keep being fuelled to the point where tourists will realize that Quebec is a great place to go. These companies have a lot to offer than just goods, instead they give you a chance to experience the outdoors the way it is meant to be experienced.

The Gala was organized by James Bay Tourism and Eeyou Istchee Tourism with their presidents Mr. Sherman Herodier and Mrs. Marie-Christine Mailhiot present, and they saw to it that the Gala went through perfectly to show who will be representing the James Bay region. The Gala itself wouldn’t have been successful without the help of sponsors such as the Caisses Desjardins, and the Ministère du Développement économique de l’innovation et de l’exportation, the Société de développement de la Baie-James, the Cree Construction and Development Company, the SADC of Northern Quebec, Hydro-Quebec, the Cree Nation of Ouje-Bougoumou and many others. These companies offered their support to promote tourism in Quebec.

The Gala ended off on a peaceful note with local musician Richard Bosum who sang his own original songs in Cree. His beautiful music captivated others by showing them that there is a lot of talent and passion in the James Bay region.

All in all, tourism needs a lot of creativity, passion, and professionalism and the Gala showed just how creative and passionate companies were in bringing tourists up to Northern Quebec. These companies are committed to sharing a vision, and although many have different visions in promoting tourism, all of them have the same basic idea which is to show the beautiful, rich territory that is the James Bay region. To promote the important aspects of such a vast region which is composed of lakes, rivers, forest, and Cree culture, it must be understood that the James Bay region has the potential to be a great tourist attraction for many to experience the great North.