Barrier-free travel in the Canadian North with SoulFly Experiences
At the airport with trip partner Air Canada (all photos courtesy Fiona Scott)

Barrier-free travel in the Canadian North with SoulFly Experiences

WHITEHORSE — Travel refreshes the mind and soul, and SoulFly Experiences has developed travel packages that meet the needs of more travellers.

Recognizing that often the biggest fears for people with limited mobility is access and information, SoulFly’s founders Nicole Petersen and Tanelle Bolt set out to work with operators in updating all components of their travel packages.

Giving clients the confidence that the hotel has been assessed, the transport is dedicated and available in addition to tours being reviewed for full inclusion, allows SoulFly’s guests to relax and actually enjoy the journey like a true holiday.

Feeling a cool breeze from the surrounding Yukon mountains is a more satisfying memory than the frustrations of actually getting to the mountains.

It has taken a couple of years to develop the product for SoulFly Experiences, but the reward is such a positive step forward in helping more people understand what barriers in travel even are.

“My wheelchair usually alerts people that I may need an alternate access point, but what about travellers that have limited hearing or vision – how do they experience new surroundings?” says Bolt. “And why should people need to be alerted in the first place – why can’t everything just be designed with full inclusion always being top of mind?”

On a recent media and trade fam trip showcasing SoulFly’s product offering in partnership with Air Canada, Inclusion Yukon and Tourism Yukon, three-time Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet shared her experiences of travelling in Whitehorse with SoulFly Experiences.

“Through sports I have been motivated to keep learning and trying new things, and through travel I have been motivated by nature and connecting with my friends and family. The vistas I’ve seen here and the flavours I’ve tasted – it’s incredible. This time is so valuable.”

SoulFly Experiences has also designed travel packages in B.C. (the Okanagan region and Victoria) and is looking to develop further travel opportunities across Canada. Their consulting services for all proprietors of accommodations, transport companies and destination operators ensure enriching experiences for everybody in the years ahead.

Barrier-free travel in the Canadian North with SoulFly ExperiencesHere’s a recap of the highlights from the fam trip …

YUKON EXPERIENCES

With a population under 45,000 for the entire territory, a sense of space can certainly be felt with a visit to the Yukon. Buildings within the streets of downtown Whitehorse are often separated with fenced in gardens and historic monuments, making a nod to the Gold Rush history. Clay cliff walls can be seen at the ends of wide roadways and brightly painted murals adorn multiple buildings. Within minutes of driving out of the capital city, trees line the edge of the highway as mountains in the distance get nearer and taller.


THE MILLENNIUM TRAIL

This 4.5 km trail which can be accessed directly from downtown Whitehorse, runs along and over the fast-flowing Yukon River. Visitors can pause at the National Historic site of the S.S. Klondike, a steam powered paddle wheeler boat, or simply enjoy the path as it winds through golden trees and red fireweed, beaver trails and public exercise equipment. Even the world’s longest wooden fish ladder aiding chinook salmon can be seen from the trailhead.


KWANLIN DUN CULTURAL CENTRE

The style and architecture of this building welcome visitors for an array of cultural insights, while SoulFly Experiences coordinated a meetup with local artist Karen Nicloux. Looking over and feeling the textures of her brightly coloured beadwork, while listening to stories of life in the North as an Indigenous woman, was a moving experience. During the conversations, Nicloux completed a set of gloves made from moose hide and beaver fur, a cozy memento that will soon become a family heirloom.


LUMEL STUDIOS

Also labelled the ‘Happiness Factory’, this glass blowing experience has been fully inclusive from the moment they opened their doors in 2016. Guests learn how to shape and create their own colourful piece of art as a vase or paperweight. The tapping sounds, the fiery temperatures and the bright colours catching light from all angles created many smiles and added to the memento making memories.


KATHLEEN LAKE

Within the heart of Kluane National Park, the clear waters of Kathleen Lake reflected the surrounding snow-capped mountains and fall colours. Parks Canada had a crackling fire and passed out warming cups of tea. Even though the boardwalk trail invited us to explore more, the atmosphere nestled into the waterfront was the perfect outdoor calm of a new holiday memory.


MACBRIDE MUSEUM

The Yukon’s history, topography, arts and culture are brought to life in exhibits that wow even the non-museum types. The Goldrush showgirls entertain visitors to the bathrooms and the albino moose adds to the folklore of the area. Full inclusion has been a top consideration in the museums’ design as self-guided tours have auditory enhancements.


ECLIPSE SPA

There’s nothing like a soak in mineral rich hot water to fully relax. Add in the surrounding trees and possibly the Northern Lights and we have reached the ultimate experience. Newly renovated, these natural hot springs have been designed for wheelchair access and include non-gender specific spaces.


DINING

Dining opportunities on the trip included Gather Café, Yukon Brewing, Wayfarer Oyster House and Woodcutter’s Blanket & Brewery. Travelling with dietary restrictions is another consideration of barrier-free travel, and the local restaurants included in SoulFly packages are attentive to requests. Tours of North America’s smallest brewery and the Yukon’s only whiskey distillery were both down to earth and perfect for sharing in gifts back home.

 


For more information about SoulFly Experiences click here.