Tips on how to be a thoughtful traveller: Sarain Fox

Sarain Fox is a Canadian indigenous actor, TV presenter and activist from the Anishinaabekwe nation. She is also a partner for the TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation supported by travel brands including Contiki, AAT Kings, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations. See treadright.org

STEP ONE Travel is in a big cultural shift as people bore of frivolous, inauthentic connection. It's time to invest in meaningful travel and dialogue. From learning about bush medicine in Australia to living off the land using traditional hunting and fishing in Canada, always seek out the indigenous population in any land you visit, and their knowledge, such as learning about their country's flora and fauna.

STEP TWO Where does history begin? It doesn't begin with first contact, it's not the colonial history. As travellers, we can open our perspective and look for the first chapter with immersive experiences and experiential learning. As the saying goes, "Nothing about us without us."

STEP THREE Seek out authenticity and participate in the indigenous economy. You can do this by purchasing indigenous art, or by searching out local food and drink. Find local business you can support, and help give people their economic sovereignty while keeping traditions and crafts alive.

STEP FOUR Take only pictures, leave nothing behind. So many indigenous people have very specific ways they interact with the land – picking up a rock from a national park can be very disrespectful: learn the protocols and how to care for the land and its wildlife. In Canada, my people have been drawing petrographs along the shores of the Great Lakes for thousands of years. They're completely accessible, but it's still a privilege to be there, and it comes down to integrity: sometimes that means not climbing a cliff or a rock. Also understand that, sometimes, you're going to take more in without taking photos. My people ask you to come with your hands open: we say that without open hands, you can't have an open heart. And holding a phone doesn't allow for that.

STEP FIVE Sustainability is key to making travel matter. I like to "take three  for the sea" at local or international beaches and parks. We have to feel the same responsibility as we do at home, and make a conscious effort to pick up rubbish floating around. The individual has to make the change we want to see in the world. Also ban your use of single-use plastics – I have a water bottle with a carbon filter, so I can drink any water. Plastic water bottles just aren't accountable.

Treadright's latest collaboration is with the Kari Foundation, which aims to support Aboriginal families and communities.

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