Meet Trina Mather-Simard CEO of Mādahòkì Farms

  • Recipient: Indigenous Experience's Mādahòkì Farms
  • Region: Ottawa
  • Most recent funding allocated: $1.6 million
Photo of Trina Mather-Simard with an Ojibwe Spirit Horse. Photo sourced from Ottawa Business Journal.

"In one year, our small but impressive team of Indigenous women leaders has created an exciting venue that is already welcoming student groups, local residents and domestic and international visitors and supporting over 50 small Indigenous businesses."

Trina Mather-Simard, Founder and Executive and Artistic Director, Indigenous Experiences

Time and again, Canadian women have proven themselves to be hardworking and dedicated entrepreneurs, yet many still face barriers to achieving their dreams. FedDev Ontario is committed to women being equal participants in southern Ontario's economy. When women succeed, we all succeed.

Trina Mather-Simard is a trailblazer for Indigenous tourism and a status member of the Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough. In 1998, Trina harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit to help Canadians and international visitors gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture by establishing Indigenous Experiences, an organization that focused on Indigenous events and tourism. Since then, Trina's organization has paved the way for Indigenous tourism attractions in Ottawa and across the country. Trina's passion for her heritage has led to Indigenous Experiences becoming one of the first Indigenous tourism attractions to be featured in Destination Canada's Signature Experiences Collection.

After more than 20 years of successful cultural programming on Victoria Island near Ottawa, Indigenous Experiences wanted to expand its program offerings. This vision became a reality when the organization acquired a lease for a 164-acre property in Ottawa's greenbelt, where it became Mādahòkì Farms. Trina recognized the importance of forming strategic partnerships to increase her odds of success and applied for an investment through FedDev Ontario's Tourism Relief Fund (TRF). With a $750,000-investment from FedDev Ontario, Indigenous Experiences was able to transform this former event space into a year-round Indigenous cultural agritourism destination.

Powwow at Madahòkì Farm

"With the support of the Tourism Recovery Fund, we were able to build an even brighter future for our organization, re-developing an impressive 164-acre farm in Ottawa's greenbelt into Mādahòkì Farm, which means "to share the land."

Trina Mather-Simard, Founder and Executive and Artistic Director, Indigenous Experiences

Thanks to Trina's hard work and passion, this women-led organization has seen great success in a short amount of time. The Farm is the new home to a series of Indigenous events celebrating the seasons, including the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, which draws nearly 50,000 visitors annually. As well, Mādahòkì Farm is the year round home of an Indigenous marketplace that promotes products made by Indigenous makers and artisans, and the permanent home for a growing herd of endangered Ojibwe Spirit Horses.

The success of Mādahòkì Farm encouraged Trina Mather-Simard to continue making plans to expand its learning opportunities. With FedDev Ontario's support, Mādahòkì Farm will use an investment of nearly $855,000 to install a water system with interactive rock pools, lounging boulders, waterfalls, streams and jumping rocks, that will create an adventure space for children and adults alike. This natural working ecosystem will include plants, lily beds and a habitat for fish and other aquatic life. The water experience will be constructed to reflect the cultural heritage of Canada's First Nation Communities and their connection to the natural environment.

"In our traditional teachings, Nibi (water) is life and an essential foundation of our communities and culture. With support from FedDev Ontario, Indigenous Experiences is building Canada's first large-scale bio-diverse pond with Indigenous plants and harvesting as an attraction at Mādahòkì Farm, which will allow us to share more about Indigenous traditional knowledge and our deep connection to water through cultural tourism experiences."

Trina Mather-Simard, Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Experiences Mādahòkì Farm

FedDev Ontario is proud to invest in women-led and founded companies and organizations so they can grow, thrive and create good jobs. The investments in Mādahòkì Farm will not only further the participation of women in our economy, but will also support Indigenous entrepreneurs in preserving their cultural heritage.

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