COTA Board of Directors and Staff
An Exciting Time for Tourism in Eeyou Istchee
During the pandemic, tourism took a big hit worldwide, with travel reaching a standstill. No one could predict when it would open up again, but we at the Cree Outfitting Tourism Association (COTA) remained optimistic. With many travel-related jobs at risk, we were fortunate to get through the crisis with little damage. We took the time to focus on potential growth opportunities and plan for the future of tourism in our beautiful territory.
Eeyou Istchee Tourism headed in the right direction
In addition to COTA, there are two not-for-profit Regional Tourism Associations (RTAs). These associations are Eeyou Istchee Tourism (EIT) and Tourisme Baie-James (TBJ). Their mandates are to promote and support our region’s tourism and development.
One of the main goals of Eeyou Istchee Tourism (the RTA serving our Cree members) is to position our region as a world-class destination. We are continuously strategizing and planning to reach this objective. To help drive our ambition, we created a new position – the Director of Development. We are excited to have Rob Imrie join our EIT team in this central role. Rob is familiar with our territory’s incredible beauty and appeal as he and his family have proudly called Eeyou Istchee home for many years.
Rob brings the necessary skills to our team with a wealth of related expertise, such as strategic development and communications, project leadership, community and stakeholder relations, and team building. He also has experience working in, and with, various Eeyou organizations, with his most recent experience as the Director of Programs at the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute for the past several years. Rob’s impressive academic background includes an MBA from Queen’s University, a Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership from McGill, and two undergraduate degrees.
As the Director of Development, Rob will focus on developing and implementing EIT’s Strategic Tourism Plan. With his development team, he will help EIT members develop sustainable tourism initiatives in our region. EIT is now better equipped to serve our Cree members and will continue to help build and develop tourism in our region.
Experience and Innovation at the forefront of Voyages Eeyou Istchee Baie-James Travel
Voyages Eeyou Istchee Baie-James Travel, the non-profit travel agency created by COTA, provides services to travellers, other travel agencies, provincial and national destination management companies, and international tour operators. It is also commonly known as EIBJT in English and VEIBJ in French. Our travel agency permit, issued by Quebec’s consumer protection agency, allows us to operate as a full-service travel agency in the province.
This summer, we were proud to welcome a new permanent Executive Director – Taoufik Bouhnich. In this prominent role, he will carry out the travel agency’s mission, activities, and day-to-day operations. With more than twenty-five years of experience in the tourism and hospitality field, EIBJT is very fortunate to have such an accomplished manager at its helm.
Taoufik has expertise in sales and marketing, revenue management, business development, strategic planning, and he is fluent in five languages. His previous positions included working at various hotels, destination management companies, travel agencies, tour operators, universities, and the International Center for Training and Research in Tourism. His related academic background includes a Master’s degree in Tourism Management and Planning from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Marketing from the Institut Pilote de l’Hôtellerie et du Tourisme.
Taoufik is joining the team at an exciting time. We have upgraded our technology with a new reservation platform allowing interested visitors and professionals to book online. As this is an industry-standard, it was essential for EIBJT to have this option. With our professional travel agents and the new online booking engine, we have expanded our potential client outreach, ultimately boosting our Cree Nation’s economy with the potential for an increase in tourism revenue.
As we know, Indigenous tourism experiences are quite popular worldwide. Taoufik and his team will continue to strive for EIBJT to be the ideal agency to book these exciting holidays in our region. Log onto our website at www.voyageseibj.com to check out the current offers available and get inspired. We are always looking for more Cree companies to work with to create more tourist packages, products, and experiences. We would love to discuss potential ideas and help launch new projects – contact us by email at email@example.com or by phone at 514-346-5209.
Experience leads the way with the EIBJT Board of Directors
The Board of Directors for Eeyou Istchee Baie-James Travel welcomed an accomplished fifth member this year. We were delighted to have Tanya Pash join the Board. Her wealth of experience in the airline industry and on various related Boards is impressive and to our benefit.
As the Air Creebec Chief Operating Officer since 2013, Tanya is highly skilled in business administrative and financial activities, business strategies and action plans. She has experience sitting on several other Boards, such as the Val-d’Or Chamber of Commerce, Val-d’Or Regional Airport, the Quality Inn and Suites hotel, Cree Nation Trust, and Kepa Transport to name a few. Her expertise and experience make her an invaluable addition to the board.
Our current EIBJT Board of Directors includes:
- Robin McGinley, COTA / EIT Executive Director
- Isabelle Milord, Tourisme Baie-James Executive Director
- Timothy Wapachee, COTA / EIT Financial Controller/Corporate Secretary
- Jamie Moses, Cree Nation Government Cree Language Commissioner
- Tanya Pash, Air Creebec Chief Operating Officer
All board members are appointed by COTA since it is the only voting member of the not-for-profit Cree travel agency. EIBJT benefits greatly from the work and life experiences these board members bring to the table. The Board represents an array of backgrounds and collaborations – such as connecting the Cree people and the Jamesian population, coastal and inland Cree communities, and various work experiences across different organizations. Their valuable points of view work to our advantage.
A bright and exciting future
As we all know, the past two years have been incredibly challenging for the tourism industry. Luckily, we at COTA and our tourism partners were able to take the time to grow and develop new ideas, always remaining positive and focused. With new team members and innovative methods, we have come back stronger and are excited about the future of tourism in Eeyou Istchee!
205 Opemiska Meskino, P.O Box 1167
Oujé-Bougoumou, QC GOW 3C0
Phone: 418.745.2220 Fax: 418.745.2240
Toll free: 1.888.268.COTA (2682)
The primary role of the COTA Board of Directors is to guide the activities of the association and make decisions that help further the development of the tourism industry in Eeyou Istchee in accordance with the needs and objectives of our members.
The COTA Board is comprised of twelve members who serve a 3-year term. One board member is appointed by the Cree Nation Government, nine are elected by the COTA membership and two are appointed by the elders council. The community of Washaw Sibi is represented with a member who has observer status.
COTA policy stipulates that there must be at least one member from each of the nine Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee. Each member must be a Cree Beneficiary and closely affiliated with his or her community.
Photo credit: Theresa Macleod Loon
Mr. Anderson Jolly
President – Nemaska Representative
9 Bear Trail
Nemaska, Quebec J0Y 3B0
Mr. Edward Bearskin
Vice-President – Chisasibi Representative
Chisasibi, Qc J0M 1W0
tel: 819-855-2878 ext.502
Ms. Irene Otter – Executive Committee
18 Poplar Street
Waswanipi, Quebec J0Y 3C0
Mr. Ron Simard
203 Opemiska Meskino
Ouje-Bougoumou, Quebec G0W 3C0
Mr. Gilbert Baribeau
Mistissini, Quebec J0Y 3C0
Ms. Stacy Bear
70 Waskaganish Road
Waskaganish, Qc J0M 1R0
Mr. Stanley Shashaweskum
Wemindji, Quebec J0M 1L0
Mr. Elvis Weapenicappo
Eastmain, Qc J0M 1W0
Mr. Isaac Masty
P.O. Box 149
Whapmagoostui, Québec J0M 1G0
Mr. Alexander Moses
277 Duke Street
Mistissini, Québec G0W 1C0
Elders Johnny & Louise B. Saganash
Elders Committee Representatives
Mr. Timothy Wapachee
Interim Financial Controller/Corporate Secretary
205, Opemiska Meskino, P.0. Box 1167
Oujé-Bougoumou, Québec G0W 3C0
tel: 418.745.2220 ext: 4229
Robin McGinley, Executive Director Ext.4222
Timothy Wapachee, Financial Controller/Corporate Secretary Ext.4229
Julie Simard, Assistant to the Executive Director Ext.4225
Angel Mianscum, Digital Animator Ext.4224
Lyne Comtois, Interim Director, Marketing and Promotion for EIT & TBJ 418.748.8140
Victoria Crowe, Marketing Agent Ext.4227
Joanik Linteau, Project Manager, Reception and Marketing 418.748.8140
Louise Séguin, Product Development Officer Ext.4231
Frances Edwards, Administrative Assistant Ext.4225
Rob Imrie, Director of Development Ext.4230
Dex Savage, Project Manager, Snowmobile and Quad 418.748.8140 Ext.23
Lacey Biedermann, Bookkeeper Ext. 4226
Voyages Eeyou Istchee Baie-James Travel
Taoufik Bouhnich, Executive Director of VEIBJT Ext. 6221 or 418.745.3888
Tamara Moar, Administrative Assistant of VEIBJT Ext. 6222 or 418.745.3888