For Immediate Release: August 31, 2016
City Supports Wanuskewin’s UNESCO Aspirations: Lease Deal Signed
Today, the City and Wanuskewin Heritage Park (Wanuskewin) entered into an agreement to lease a tract of public land for $1 per year for 99 years. The agreement is in support of Wanuskewin’s renewal campaign.
Part of Wanuskewin’s vision for renewal is to become the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in Saskatchewan.
“Wanuskewin links our past to the present,” says Mayor Donald Atchison. “Today, we are planning for the future of the Saskatoon region, which includes aligning the City’s cultural strategy with innovative approaches like the Wanuskewin UNESCO project. We must protect this unique part of history and promote our cultural heritage.”
In support of this vision, the City developed a long-term lease agreement for approximately 152 hectares (375 acres) of adjacent City-owned lands for $1 per year for 99 years.
“The City of Saskatoon recognizes the significance of Wanuskewin’s revitalization vision and the benefits the development will bring to the city, the region, and our entire province,” says City Manager, Murray Totland.
Wanuskewin’s renewal project is multi-faceted and involves:
- preserving the ecology and biodiversity of the site;
- expanding the land base to meet UNESCO’s buffer criteria; and
- returning a small herd of Plains bison to its native prairie habitat.
“If ever a legacy exists, the story of the Indigenous peoples of the Northern Plains is one that must be told in a manner respectful of the millions that were here before us – in culture, spiritual integrity, and the environment,” says Wanuskewin CEO, Dana Soonias. “Wanuskewin is excited to embark on this journey and we are grateful to the City of Saskatoon, which has committed to helping us achieve our remarkable vision.”
Wanuskewin’s plans include renovating and expanding the facility to attract international exhibitions, conferences, and special events; expanding the art gallery and showcasing Plains Indigenous art in Canada; dedicating additional green space and grassland reclamation; and increasing Saskatoon’s reputation as a global tourism destination.
“From the beginning, the City of Saskatoon has been a key partner,” says Wanuskewin Board Chair, Candace Wasacase-Lafferty. “With the renewal of a 99-year lease, the City has once again demonstrated visionary leadership to preserve and protect this extraordinary historic Indigenous gathering place for future generations of Canadians.”
On June 17, 2016, Wanuskewin publicly revealed a team of exceptional community leaders who have committed to help Wanuskewin realize its ambitious plan, led by both Wayne Brownlee, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of PotashCorp, and Felix Thomas, Chief of the Saskatoon Tribal Council.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, aims to build intercultural understanding through the protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. There is a stringent application process, which is managed in Canada by Parks Canada. Inscribing a site on the World Heritage List is not the end of the story; site managers and local authorities continuously work toward managing, monitoring, and preserving World Heritage properties.
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Media, for more information, please contact:
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
(306)931-6767 ext. 232