Akwesasne joins Cornwall and Counties spark for tourism

Connor McLaughlin, Special to Seaway News
Akwesasne joins Cornwall and Counties spark for tourism
Pictured from left-to-right are Ontario Justin Lafontaine of Tourism Innovation Lab, Dale Allen of Cornwall Tourism Development Fund, Troy Thompson of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Cornwall City Councilor Syd Gardiner, and SDG Counties Warden Allan Armstrong at the announcement of the second round for the Spark Tourism Innovation program in Cornwall on Wednesday, September 29, 2021.

CORNWALL, Ontario – “Spark” Program has returned for its second year and has now paired with Akwesasne to create new local tourism industries. 

Akwesasne has now partnered with Cornwall and SDG Counties, alongside the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab to provide locals a chance to make their tourism ideas into a successful business venture, through the “Spark” Mentorship and Grants Program. 

There are currently 13 regions holding this program, with Akwesasne, Cornwall and SDG Counties as one of the 13. They announced that the program will start Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, and that the application deadline is Nov. 5, 2021. 

This will be Akwesasne’s first year being added to the Cornwall and SDG Counties region for this event, although it will be the second year this event has taken place in this region. 

The program was created by the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, a non-profit organization that searches for new ways to promote Ontario’s tourism. Individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations are being asked to send their tourism ideas for consideration, with the most noteworthy applicants getting selected for a Dragon’s Den Style interview where three winners will be picked from each region. 

The three winners will each be given a $3,000 grant, a three-month tourism industry mentorship, as well as access to a support network of tourism innovators entrepreneurs, and leaders.  

In a conversation with Kevin Lajoie, Tourism Officer for the City of Cornwall, he talked about last year’s event being a great success.

“We got a ton of applications we received, ended up with three finalists, and some of the ideas that were pitched were just amazing,” said Lajoie. 

With last year’s finalists, Jacob and Stephanie Vogel, Ky-Lee Hansen, and Vanessa Leduc, all of which created their winning tourism ideas, and received prizes. 

“We’re excited because it’s trying to encourage innovation, trying to encourage new ideas, and with COVID-19 and with the pandemic, it’s more than important than ever,” said Lajoie. “It’s been a tough time for businesses in general, so this is a way to try and encourage people to think outside the box and bring new tourism to the area.” 

Ideas can be submitted to 


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