December 11, 2023


Time to travel

Edmonton-based Keith Diakiw offers one of a kind Talking Rock Tours

Edmonton-dependent Métis citizen Keith Diakiw is the founder of Conversing Rock Tours – the initial ever geo-educational hiking and sightseeing journey corporation that is 100 per cent Indigenous owned. It presents excursions of various historical and geological places in Alberta through a scientific and Indigenous lens. It is also 1 of the original associates of the Indigenous Tourism Affiliation of Canada. In an interview, Diakiw shared his tale.

Diakiw was born in Saskatchewan, but grew up in Hinton, AB. He been given a Bachelor of Science diploma in Bodily Geography from the College of Lethbridge, followed by a Bachelor of Arts diploma in Anthropology and Archeology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Alberta. Because 2001 he has been a reservist, proudly serving in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Diakiw’s Métis ancestors occur from the Red River settlement and his fourth-excellent grandfather was Joseph Ouellette Sr. who fought along with Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont at the Fight of Batoche in 1885. Ouellette was 93 a long time outdated when he fought in the struggle and he was killed on the final working day. For his bravery for the duration of the resistance, Ouellette was the only a single presented a casket burial of the Métis warriors who had died in the course of the fight.

Diakiw claimed that when he wears his Métis sash he carries his ancestors with him. “With putting on my Batoche sash I nonetheless [have] that relationship to the past, the relationship to my ancestors, giving Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, and Joseph Ouellette Sr. a voice. All their tricky get the job done and their combat wasn’t for naught. It was not in vain. It is quite fruitful now. Anyone desires to be Indigenous. You know that. I know that. It is a fantastic time to be alive for an Indigenous man or woman. And now we want to pave the way for even a greater long run for our small children.”

Diakiw said he commenced Talking Rock Tours just after he was laid off from his job in the oilsands sector in 2017. It ought to have been a nerve-racking day, he reported but alternatively, it felt like he was staying presented an option to start off a thing new. He had often wanted to start out a enterprise and he observed Indigenous tourism as foremost the way for meaningful, memorable styles of encounters. He also saw Speaking Rock Excursions as a legacy piece where by he could be undertaking anything much more with his life than producing income.

Diakiw’s adore of rocks also influenced his profession path. He desired to share his knowledge and love of rocks with other individuals, not just from a scientific standpoint but also an Indigenous point of view.

“It’s genuinely awesome how different nations have distinct forms of development tales about the tiny men and women and how we are from the rocks,” Diakiw claimed. Human beings are derived from stardust, he included. The gasses stars make when they die sooner or later variety a planet, which then generates rock and then inevitably daily life. He spoke about the particular Cree star stories told by George Desjarlais.

Diakiw claimed that scientists are now knowledge the price of Indigenous awareness. “In some approaches, science is still guiding the oral histories and the way we do points as Indigenous peoples.”

A further thing he enjoys about offering tours is the option to satisfy so a lot of diverse men and women. He learns a little something new from each individual particular person he fulfills. He claimed that key takeaways for his excursions are science for the thoughts, tales from the coronary heart and heritage of the land.

As significantly as he loves supplying excursions, the tourism marketplace does not normally guarantee economical steadiness, and situations ended up specifically difficult throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stated Diakiw. With a relatives to assist and payments to pay Diakiw designed the choice to signal a Course B agreement and function total-time with the Canadian Armed Forces. He now functions as the Northern Environmental Coordinator and is also a member of the Defence Advisory Aboriginal Team. He operates Conversing Rock Tours on the aspect, and even though he would love to be able to work it comprehensive-time he stated he demands to also be realistic.

When requested what he would say to folks who may assume he is providing out by offering excursions that characteristic Indigenous understanding, Diakiw explained that he doesn’t experience like he’s promoting out. As a substitute he’s hoping to give sufficient details to set the record straight and to also produce interest in Indigenous tourism. He reported that he experienced attended a workshop in Enoch where by the subject of monetizing Indigenous knowledge was talked over.

“The greatest worry a whole lot of persons have is that if we don’t do it, non-Indigenous men and women will move in. Mainly because absolutely everyone desires to be Indigenous now, “ Diakiw reported. “So if we never stage up and tell our story, then it leaves that possibility of home for non-Indigenous individuals to make documentaries or produce issues on the net or posts that aren’t correct.”

There is a value to managing his business enterprise, but Diakiw mentioned he also does not want to come across as an infomercial. “You really do not want it to be like an infomercial where it’s like: Okay if you want Indigenous understanding it is $5.99 a minute. Okay let’s begin…. So, I imagine the largest factor is to share what we’re cozy sharing, simply because it is critical. Because if we really do not, another person else will explain to our tale.”

Diakiw concluded the job interview by declaring that he however has plenty to master about the tourism sector and working a small business. “It’s generally evolving you should under no circumstances declare you know all the things and that anything is wonderful, mainly because it is a journey just like daily life. And there are hard periods and fantastic situations, and you just kind of have to roll with the ups and downs and take pleasure in the trip.”

More information and facts about Keith Diakiw and Conversing Rock Tours can be located at

Deena Goodrunning, Neighborhood Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Indigenous Information