The first of its kind in the world, the First Nation-themed Wei Wai Kum Cruise Ship Terminal officially opened in Canada with the arrival of Regent Cruises’ 700-passenger Seven Seas Mariner. Owned and operated by the Campbell River Indian Band, this $24.5 million terminal development will bring huge, long-term economic benefits to Campbell River and the entire regional economy with the creation of over 200 jobs and estimated average annual impacts of $11.4 million.
“The Campbell River Indian Band is extremely excited to welcome our first ship and to see our vision of cruise ship come to reality,” said Chief Robert Pollard. “This is not just a great day for the Campbell River Indian Band but for the City of Campbell River and surrounding communities. This is a success story for a joint working relationship between a City and a First Nation. It shows that if governments work together we can create a sustainable community for all.”
The terminal includes a marketplace area that will introduce visitors to Laichwiltach culture and traditions and provide retail space for Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs. The First Nation’s marketing company As Wild As You Like will offer passengers a variety of shore packages including First Nation experiences and adventures, arts and culture, fishing, wildlife viewing, sightseeing adventures, golf and educational tours.
Financial support for the project came from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada ($6.25 million), Western Economic Diversification Canada ($3.2 million), the Province of British Columbia ($4 million) and the City of Campbell River ($2.3 million).
“This is a very special day and I want to congratulate and commend the Campbell River Indian Band for the tremendous effort it put into making this port of call a reality,” said the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. “A total of $9.45 million in federal funding was provided to support this project - a project that will not only bring economic benefits and opportunities to Campbell River Indian Band members but to their neighbours and the entire region.”
“The Campbell River cruise ship terminal will serve to showcase Canada’s Aboriginal heritage to visitors from around the world,” said the Honourable Rona Ambrose, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Canada’s New Government is committed to working with First Nations to support their goals of promoting economic development and entrepreneurship and strengthening communities across Canada.”
“The cruise ship industry is a vital part of BC’s tourism sector. In 2006, almost 1.3 million cruise ship visitors contributed more than $1.25 billion to the province’s economy. I commend the Campbell River Indian band and the City of Campbell River for their dedication in bringing this project to completion,” said BC Tourism, Sport and the Arts Minister Stan Hagen. “The celebration of First Nation culture and history, the draw of wildlife viewing tours and the excitement of outdoor activities like rafting, kayaking, hiking and sport fishing that Campbell River offers will leave shore visitors eager to return to BC for more adventures.”
“For years the people of Campbell River have been watching cruise ships passing us by. The first stop of the Seven Seas signifies the beginning of a new phase in the community’s long standing tourism history,” said Campbell River Mayor Roger McDonell. “Cruise ship passengers will be greeted at the First Nation-themed facility and find they have first class opportunities for shopping and tours while at port in Campbell River.”
“We are pleased to be the first cruise line to call in Campbell River, and look forward to introducing our guests to the unspoiled natural beauty and authentic First Nation cultural experiences offered in British Columbia’s newest cruise destination,” said Michael K. Pawlus, Regent Seven Seas Cruises Vice President, Product Planning.
The Campbell River Indian Band is located on Vancouver Island and has a population of 628 members. The First Nation has played a significant role in the growth and development of the local area and region over the past few years, including the highly successful Discovery Harbour Centre and Marina.