A Bold Plan for the Future
Wanuskewin Heritage Park is perhaps best known for our dedication to the history of the land and the people who lived and thrived here for over 6,000 years. As the surrounding areas are developed and expanded, it’s critical to be strategic about development and preservation.
Substantial time, research and collaboration have been devoted since 2012 to develop a comprehensive renewal strategy for Wanuskewin. Industry and market analyses resulted in the development of a Visitor Experience Master Plan and associated business and operational plans that have repositioned and renewed Wanuskewin for the future.
Today we continue to implement that bold plan and we are working hard to bring Wanuskewin to its full potential among Canada’s premier cultural destinations. Wanuskewin’s long-term vision is to become an international centre of excellence in education, science and culture and a beloved urban park.
The story of Wanuskewin Heritage Park is an epic Canadian story and the transcendent nature of this land from a small ranch in the late 1970s to a potential World Heritage Site in 2025 is remarkable. In 2019 we added a Bison herd, and in December 2020, with incredible community support, we were able to open new exhibits, new art galleries, a newly revitalized trail system as well as banquet and conference rooms to the public. The enormous success of the Thundering Ahead Capital Campaign has garnered Wanuskewin awards from Saskatchewan and across Canada:
- Tourism Association of Canada – Top Indigenous Tourism Destination in Canada – 2016 and 2019
- Tourism Saskatchewan – Business of the Year – 2020
- Canadian Society of Landscape Architects – Best Interpretive Playground – 2021
- National Trust of Canada – Transformative Project – 2021
- Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Heritage – Physical Heritage Conservation Award – 2021
- Mistahi Mamîcîhîtowin Award – Saskatoon Chamber SABEX Awards – 2021
- Project Management Award of Merit – Brian Eckel Award given to Associated Engineering for our Bison Handling Facilities – 2021
Our once in a lifetime revitalization initiative has brought Wanuskewin to new heights, and set us firmly on the road to achieve the UNESCO World Heritage Designation!
UNESCO World Heritage Designation is the gold standard for cultural and scientific sites internationally and the process of achieving such a designation is costly and complex. Not every candidate is successful and even if a site does not receive recognition, it is mandatory to provide protection and conservation into the future. The archaeological resources at Wanuskewin are unparalleled and the research program conducted over the last 40 years, the longest continuously running archaeological program in Canadian history, lies at the basis of the submission. Paramount to achieving World Heritage status is the demonstration of what is called Outstanding Universal Value. In short, this relates to questions of authenticity, the condition of the site, and the significance of the site for all of humanity. At Wanuskewin, the archaeological heritage spanning 6000 years is among the finest across the grasslands of the Northern Plains.
The next few years are vital as we work with our community to be UNESCO Ready for 2025. Your support will help Wanuskewin’s UNESCO submission and with our important day to day operations as a year-round destination Heritage Park. With your help we will continue to educate and share our stories with people of all ages and backgrounds, with the hope and promise of sharing Wanuskewin with the world very much on the horizon!