Campbell River, BC (June 27, 2024) — Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours (HWCT) based in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, continues to raise the bar in sustainable travel experiences as it announces the introduction of two originally designed hybrid electric/diesel wildlife viewing vessels.

According to Homalco First Nation Chief Darren Blaney, “This $1.5 million investment ensures HWCT operates as a leading tour operator and social enterprise focusing on the protection of our local wildlife, expanding reconciliation outreach and promoting sustainable prosperity for our people as well as our greater North Island community.”

The vessels’ design and production were led by Canada’s leading aluminum boat manufacturer EagleCraft Custom Boats, also based in Campbell River. Paramount considerations were reducing noise impact on wildlife, reducing the company’s carbon footprint, sourcing materials from local businesses, and providing a superior and safe guest experience.” Creating these innovative, industry-leading boats was challenging, but so rewarding for our team.  We could not be prouder that they will be traveling in our traditional waters around Campbell River,” said Chief Blaney.”

 

According to Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours General Manager Chyanne Trenholm, “Our team is thrilled to be adding these two state-of-the-art vessels to our touring fleet as we had a quick recovery from the pandemic and are experiencing a significant increase in demand from our national and international markets.”

Named Poho (Raven) and Qwanes (Whale), these 36-foot boats build upon HWCT’s gold standard in wildlife viewing by providing an ultra-comfortable luxury cabin and outdoor adventure seating for up to 12 guests, wheelchair accessibility throughout, superior ocean-faring construction, a stand-up indoor washroom, and an experienced skipper and guide.

“This is an historic milestone for our growing and diverse HWCT team, now 30 members strong,” says Trenholm. “We now will be providing enhanced training and growth opportunities for employees, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, as well as expanding our partnerships by working with Klahoose Coastal Adventures.”

According to Trenholm, HWCT was founded upon wildlife protection and advocacy.  She continues, “The new vessels exemplify our commitment to meet and exceed federal marine mammal guidelines as they can navigate silently when viewing whales, thus reducing our impact even further — a win-win for animals and guests.”

 

“The Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours business model is a great success story for the Homalco First Nation,” shares JP Obbagy Chief Executive Officer for the Homalco Business Group. “Under the progressive leadership of Chief and Council, our Homalco economic model is focused on sound financial management, economic development, accountability, sustainability and building relationships.  Introducing these amazing new vessels and experiencing the value they bring to our communities create a new and exciting chapter for this award-winning HWCT team.

 

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Poho (Raven), now a leader among North America’s specialized hybrid electric/diesel wildlife viewing vessels, recently made its debut at Homalco Days prior to joining Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours’ fleet.  Another, Qwanes (Whale) will be completed at the end of July, thus completing the $1.5 million investment in industry-leading boats. (Pictured left to right:  Preston Joseph (HFN Council), Darren Blaney (HFN Chief), Robert Harry (HFN Council), Jamie Wilson (HFN Council), JP Obbagy (CEO HBG), Tess Hingert (Executive Assistant HBG), Chyanne Trenholm (General Manager of HWCT).

HWCT – Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours

HBG – Homalco Business Group

HFN – Homalco First Nation

 

Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours (HWCT) is not just a tour provider, but also a proud Indigenous social enterprise owned and operated by the First Nation. It offers guided whale watching, grizzly bear, wilderness and cultural tours in the traditional territory of the Discovery Islands and Bute Inlet with tours departing from Campbell River. HWCT is deeply committed to language and cultural revitalization, providing employment and career development opportunities and promoting sustainable economic growth.  HWCT is the recent recipient of the 2024 Indigenous Operator Award presented by the Tourism Association of BC and has received numerous other accreditations and awards.

HOMALCO WILDLIFE & CULTURAL TOURS ANNOUNCES EXPANSION FOR 2021 SEASON

Campbell River, BC  (March 10, 2021)  — Today, the Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours organization, an Indigenous community-owned business, announces its expansion plans for 2021. In spring of this year, the 20-year-old ecotourism organization will be opening a new Homalco Adventure Centre in Campbell River, launching two new, state-of-the-art adventure tour vessels and introducing a new Whales, Wildlife and Culture tour.

According to Tourism Development Officer for Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours (HWCT), JP Obbagy, “After a long year of restricted business, we are really looking forward to an exciting spring of substantial expansions for our organization.” Despite pandemic-related supply chain delays, he confirms the buildout of the Centre, manufacturing of the watercrafts and tour staffing are underway. He adds, “As we move forward, we are integrating the highest possible standard of covid-19 safety protocols into all aspects of these operations.”

The Homalco Adventure Centre will be located in the Discovery Harbour Mall at 1344 Island Highway in Campbell River, adjacent to the Coastal Community Credit Union. Designed to immerse visitors in First Nations culture at the outset, the Centre’s contemporary Indigenous design will feature art from various local First Nation artists, guidebooks and more.

A defining component of the HWCT tours will be two, new, landing craft boats that offer Adventure Seating featuring zodiac-style, fresh-air seats and Comfort Seating providing protection inside the cozy cabin.  Obbagy emphasizes, “Safety is our number one priority, and we are employing the expertise of the best mariners in the business to ensure we’ve identified and addressed all vessel safety concerns.”

The new Whales, Wildlife and Culture tour expands the expertise of HWCT’s team with the addition of marine naturalists, skippers and Indigenous guides. Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours Marketing & Social Media Coordinator Chyanne Trenholm describes the tour as “something totally unique on the Island. We now have the ability to bring whales and other marine life into our realm of exploration. Of course, the Homalco cultural experience is always a unique part of all our tours, and our new boats will allow us access to land-based activities.”

While covid-19 international restrictions will likely still be in effect, Tour Coordinator for Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours Shirley Badger is confident that the tours will continue to fill. “We have seen tremendous interest in Indigenous tourism from our domestic market and our own provincial residents who are passionate about wildlife, culture and the natural beauty to be found in the Territory of the Homalco.”

“All of this great news spells progress for the Homalco First Nation,” says Chief Darren Blaney. “While covid-19 is still a factor for the foreseeable future, our Homalco First Nation is ready to welcome visitors again, for now, and as long as we deem it safe to do so. With this expansion great things can happen: knowledge of our culture and appreciation for our environment can be shared with a larger audience and more of our people can be hired and their skills developed. I believe our tour company will continue to help in healing, creating resilience and building a bright future for our people.”

More information regarding the Grand Opening of the Adventure Centre and the Whales, Wildlife and Culture tour will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

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Homalco Tours delivers sustainable, award-winning cultural, wildlife and nature experiences with an authentic Indigenous perspective. Tours include exploration of the land and waters of Homalco Territory, namely Bute Inlet which boasts spectacular wilderness and some of North America’s most sought-after wildlife, including grizzly bears, salmon, eagles and whales.

 

HCWT Announces Expansion Plans for 2021 Season