For Immediate Release: February 9, 2017
SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN: In an historic day at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon, Tribal Chief Felix Thomas of the Saskatoon Tribal Council and Wayne Brownlee, Executive Vice President and CFO of PotashCorp joined Wanuskewin Board Chair Candace Wasacase-Lafferty to announce Thundering Ahead, an ambitious renewal plan for Wanuskewin supported by an impressive $40 million capital campaign goal.
“Never before have we had such a preeminent group of community leaders supporting a philanthropic project in Saskatchewan,” said Brownlee, co-chair of the campaign. “It is demonstrative of the great value of this project and the significance of protecting the legacy of Wanuskewin Heritage Park. It is time to bring our 6,000 years of history into the future.”
The $40 Million Capital Campaign consists of a $25 million cash fundraising goal and $15 million to acquire land to expand park boundaries, necessary for consideration as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. The team announced that they have already raised two-thirds of the needed funds. The renewal is multi-faceted and involves reintroducing exhibit galleries and improving educational offerings, expanding the current facility to accommodate larger conferences and meeting groups, renovating the nearly 25-year-old interpretive centre, preserving the ecology and biodiversity of Opimihaw Valley, and expanding the land base to be home to a small herd of Plains bison.
“The bison brought us to this valley and sustained us physically, spiritually and economically,” said Thomas, co-chair of the campaign. “Bringing back the bison represents healing for our communities. It will be a significant homecoming.”
The Thundering Ahead campaign will fund a bold renewal based on four pillars:
- To elevate Wanuskewin from the longest-running archaeological project in Canada to an international centre for excellence in education, preservation and interpretation of Indigenous art and culture
- To aspire to world heritage designation through UNESCO, building on Wanuskewin’s existing status as a National Historic Site
- To preserve the ecological island that is Opimihaw Valley and protect the unique ecology and biodiversity of the land as Wanuskewin transitions into an iconic urban park
- To return the majestic bison to Wanuskewin’s plains.
“This renewal represents something significant for Wanuskewin,” said Wasacase-Lafferty, “Yes, it’s about offering a more robust visitor experience at World Heritage standards, but it’s also about the people who came before us. We acknowledge that these lands have been occupied for 6,400 years, and future success lies in continuing to come together as a community in this space.”
“This announcement is the culmination of many years of hard work by many people,” said Chief Executive Officer of Wanuskewin, Dana Soonias. “Our staff and Board of Directors have committed countless hours to date. Now we need the whole community to step up and support us as we take Wanuskewin to the next level.”
On August 31, 2016, Wanuskewin and the City of Saskatoon announced the long-term lease of approximately 375 acres of adjacent City-owned lands for $1 per year for 99 years. On June 17, 2016, Wanuskewin publicly revealed a team of exceptional community leaders who have committed to help Wanuskewin realize its ambitious plan, and on February 26, 2016 announced formal intent to apply to become Saskatchewan’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park is located five kilometers north of Saskatoon. It opened in 1992 and has been host to many historic events, including a royal visit in 1986 by Queen Elizabeth II. In December 2016, the Catholic Church announced that an invitation had been extended for Pope Francis to visit Wanuskewin to offer an apology to residential school survivors in Canada.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
(306)931-6767 ext. 232