Examining the Potential for Wildlife Tourism in Eeyou Istchee, Northern Quebec, Canada


  • Raynald Harvey Lemelin Lakehead University
  • Graham Dickson


Well-established wildlife tourism destinations like Churchill, Manitoba and Svalbard, Norway provide visitors with the opportunity to view charismatic megafauna through well-established travel connections, infrastructures, and marketing strategies. Cree and Inuit communities in more peripheral areas of northern Canada are also seeking to diversify local economic opportunities through wildlife tourism. Unlike these more established wildlife tourism destinations, however, these smaller communities are often defined as remote, difficult to access, and in the case of polar bear viewing opportunities, virtually unknown. Despite these limitations, the growth of "last chance tourism" and opportunities for wildlife tourists to participate in less-commercialized and more localized polar bear viewing experiences do exist. This report presents a site assessment and product development report examining the potential of developing small-scale wildlife tourism opportunities featuring polar bear viewing in Eeyou Istchee (Cree for The People’s Land), the traditional territory of the James Bay Cree in Northern Quebec. The report suggests that access to polar bears may provide an opportunity for the Cree community of Wemindji to distinguish itself from similar offerings by combining wildlife tourism and Aboriginal tourism, and by developing a product that showcases their knowledge and management approach to wildlife.

Author Biographies

Raynald Harvey Lemelin, Lakehead University

Associate Professor, School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism, Lakehead University, Ontario

Graham Dickson

Owner of Arctic Kingdom, a Canadian tour

operator company leading polar expeditions since 1999