Waterhen Lake FN Announced as new owners of Waters Edge Eco Lodge in Meadow Lake
Waters Edge Eco Lodge is an all season lakeside lodge nestled in the forest at the waters edge on Grieg Lake situated in Meadow Lake Provincial Park.
Waterhen Lake First Nation announced it is venturing into the tourism industry in northwest Saskatchewan.
The community just purchased the Water’s Edge Eco Lodge near Greig Lake in Meadow Lake Provincial Park. The leadership came together Friday to celebrate and host Elders at the site.
Waterhen Lake First Nation Development Corporation operations manager Jesse Morin said plans are underway to expand the site and add a 10-unit Teepee Village accommodation to give guests a unique experience visiting the resort.
“It’s going to be one of the very first Indigenous inclusion destinations in Saskatchewan,” he said.
Discussions for the project that will be 100 per cent Indigenous owned and operated first started last September.
“One of the great things about the Water’s Edge Eco Lodge is it’s actually a historic site for our First Nations,” Morin said. “We have traditional trapping footings where we used to do our fur trading and our economic development in the past.”
He said it made for the perfect place to share some of the Indigenous culture and history.
Morin said staff are also receiving culinary training for a new dining menu that incorporates traditional dishes as well.
A total of 21 students from the First Nation’s membership are currently completing Tourism and Hospitality program training.
The First Nation is also working with Boreal Heartland on a project for a heritage harvester walk to show visitors to Eco Lodge some of the local herbs in the area that can be used to make traditional teas.
“We have a lot of Indigenous experience and educational components going into the Eco Lodge.” Morin said. “We’re using tourism as an economic development strategy that is going to bring a quality of life to the people in our community by employing them, and also playing an enormous part in northwest Saskatchewan’s tourism industry.”
The full expansion for the resort is expected to be completed in July.
Chief Blaine Fiddler is also excited about the development for the First Nation.
“This project sets a clear example that First Nations bring a valuable resource to current and future tourism developments in our region,” he said. “Most importantly, the project not only brings our past relatives alive by telling their story, but also sends a clear message to our current Elders that tourism and economic development will be the foundation that feeds our children and creates a quality of life for decades to come.”
This is the second resort site the First Nation has purchased in the area.
Morin said Waterhen Lake First Nation also owns Miywasin Ota Resort (formerly known as M&N Resort) located in Meadow Lake Provincial Park, and recently completed an expansion there.
“Between the [Miywasin Ota Resort] expansion and the purchase of the [Water’s Edge] Eco Lodge, we have invested over $3.4 million in First Nation tourism within the Meadow Lake Provincial Park,” he said.
The First Nation received $240,000 from the Province for Tourism and Hospitality training through Tourism Saskatchewan’s Work Ready Initiative for the Miywasin Ota Resort project. As well, it was awarded an $800,000 contribution from Indigenous Services Canada’s Community Opportunity Readiness program related to the Water’s Edge Eco Lodge initiative.
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