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Thrive Tours recognized with awards for boosting health and spirit of clients during pandemic

Local eco-tourism company offers Indigenous-led nature tours
Thrive Tours 3
Amanda Cora and Brad Robinson, of Thrive Tours, at the awards ceremony in Ottawa.

A local couple has won several awards for having made a positive impact on quality of life during the pandemic through their eco-tourism business.

Amanda Cora and Brad Robinson, owners of Thrive Tours, took home four Ontario Tourism Resiliency Awards at the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s annual awards gala on Oct. 27 in Ottawa. They won in the innovation and sustainability categories.

The awards recognize the efforts of tourism businesses that responded in meaningful ways to obstacles and challenges presented by the pandemic. 

For Cora and Robinson, that was helping people discover a love for the outdoors and connecting with the land – just what Thrive Tours is all about.

“It’s a huge part of what we’re doing because when you go outside and do something it really boosts your mental well being and physical wellness,” said Cora.

“Even if it’s just going on the kayaks or walking through the forest, it has an impact on people and we want to empower people to take that initiative to be well in the outdoors wherever they are.”

Thrive Tours is an Indigenous owned and operated guided eco-cultural tourism company located in Sault Ste. Marie. 

The tours offer an opportunity to connect with nature through guided canoe, kayak, hiking, snowshoeing and year-round camping while promoting local Indigenous history and practices.

“Everything is educational, fun and interactive so people are leaving with a sense of feeling connected to the land and area and the First Peoples and traditions of this area,” said Cora.

The couple first operated in the Sudbury area. They moved to the Sault last December after they saw it would be ideal for their tours during many kayak trips on the St. Mary’s River and in Gros Cap.

The experiences are designed with an Indigenous-led perspective to connect people with each other and Mother Earth’s offerings with respect for the land, water, and all living things and to leave a carbon-free footprint, said Robinson.

“We talk to them (their clients) about the fact that we choose not to further contaminate the waters and the land and this whole idea of stewardship means we have a responsibility and that responsibility is given to us by the Creator,” said Robinson.

“So, it kind of transcends this idea of just not polluting the water, but that there’s a reason, and that reason is because that water is a life blood of Mother Earth and it’s very important to us to showcase that in the best way we know. So how we get across the land and the water is purely by either human power or power that doesn’t require gas.”

While the couple is still reveling in the accolades, the biggest reward, they said, is seeing the impact the tours have had on the well-being of their clients. 

“You meet with these people that you’ve not had relationships with and by the end of the a few hours they are wanting to hug you,” said Cora.

“Their hearts have been activated and they feel now more connected to the land. It just seems like they’re going away with so much more than they thought they were when the got here."