For Immediate Release: June 16, 2016
Wanuskewin Heritage Park (Wanuskewin) in Saskatoon announced today its ambitious plan to fulfill their founding vision to become a global centre of excellence in the education, preservation and interpretation of Northern Plains Indigenous culture and heritage.
Part of Wanuskewin’s exciting vision for renewal is to apply to become Saskatchewan’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage designated site.
“As a result of a great deal of work and collaboration, Wanuskewin has renewed its original vision,” said Wanuskewin Board Chair, Candace Wasacase-Lafferty. “Our journey is just beginning, but we are excited to embark in the process of applying to UNESCO for recognition as a World Heritage Site. Our announcement today is an early first step, and we look forward to one day welcoming the world to Wanuskewin.”
“The Government of Saskatchewan is excited to support Wanuskewin’s application efforts to bring global recognition to this remarkable heritage resource,” said, Saskatoon Silver Springs MLA Ken Cheveldayoff. “This renewal will highlight the cultural and historic importance of Wanuskewin Heritage Park.”
“Wanuskewin Heritage Park links our past to the present and the future of our region”, says Saskatoon Mayor Donald Atchison. “Today Saskatoon is planning for the future and that includes aligning the city’s cultural strategy with innovative approaches like the Wanuskewin Heritage Park UNESCO project to promote and enhance our cultural heritage.”
The renewal project is multi-faceted and involves preserving the ecology and biodiversity of the site, expanding the land base to meet UNESCO’s criteria and returning a small herd of Plains bison to their native prairie habitat.
“The bison are what drew Indigenous peoples to Wanuskewin for thousands of years,” Tribal Chief Felix Thomas from the Saskatoon Tribal Council said. “By understanding their story of near extinction, we are able to better understand the stories of Canada’s indigenous peoples. Bringing back the bison will be symbolic of the recognition of Indigenous cultures in Canada.”
Wanuskewin plans to renovate and expand the facility to attract international exhibitions, conferences and special events; to expand the art gallery and showcase Plains Indigenous art in Canada; to dedicate additional green space and grassland reclamation; and increase Saskatoon’s reputation as a global tourism destination.
“We are launching a bold plan for Wanuskewin to reach its full potential and take its place among Canada’s premier cultural destinations,” Wayne Brownlee, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of PotashCorp said. “Wanuskewin has extraordinary cultural value that is relevant to all Canadians, and PotashCorp is committed to helping Wanuskewin build an internationally-recognized centre that will be sustainable in the long-term.”
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization which 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 the Department of Parks Canada. Inscribing a site on the World Heritage List is not the end of the story. Site managers and local authorities continuously work towards managing, monitoring and preserving the World Heritage properties.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
(306)931-6767 ext. 232