On January 27, 2020, one of the two owners of Moccasin Trails was interviewed in Kelowna, BC. Greg Hopf started the interview by sharing his background and upbringing, growing up as part of Yellowknife’s Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
A difficult childhood was strongly influenced by his mother’s survival of the Residential School program, resulting in alcohol abuse and distance from the Indigenous culture. In his teenage years, when the beginnings of a dangerous path became apparent, he went to live with his aunt in Fort Simpson. There, in a small community of 900 residents, he was thriving, living a cultural and spiritual life, which defined his identity and provided comfort. Pride in and confidence with his culture grew, providing a moral compass. About his aunt and uncle, Greg says: “I owe everything to them.”
Greg’s talent as a hockey player saw him play junior and then university hockey, travelling all over the world, before returning to the Northwest Territories in his early 20s. He was put in a leadership position to provide motivation and inspiration for youth and work with kids who were often in a similar position he was in years earlier, trying to guide them onto the right path. With his background in and passion for sports, he created the Aboriginal Sports Circle in the Northwest Territories, building it into a respectable organization that today has programs in every community.
Eventually married and with kids, he realized that he wanted to expose his children to different parts and cultures of Canada, encourage them to take risks, and also go beyond what he and his wife had already achieved in their careers. They moved to Kelowna, BC, and Greg worked for the Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) as an Indigenous Tourism specialist. Just like his previous work in sports, he was building relationships and trust with Indigenous communities. Realizing the gap in Indigenous tourism in the region — despite the potential presented by about three million visitors, with one in three visitors looking for an Indigenous experience — Greg started Moccasin Trails with his friend Frank Antoine. Greg and Frank share a vision, philosophy, principles, and moral compass, and they are passionate about educating visitors about Indigenous culture.
Watch Video Clip 1: Interviewee Introduction (Transcript Available) (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0):