Waterton Parks – Across the country, Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples are partners in conserving Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places. On May 17, Parks Canada was honoured to host a traditional Blackfoot blessing ceremony by the Káínai and Piikáni First Nations in Waterton Lakes National Park to mark the start of construction on the park’s new visitor centre.
The ceremony, which included representatives from Káínai, Piikáni, Siksiká, and Aamsskáápipikani, Parks Canada and contractors, is a traditional way to bring together the project team and provided a blessing for safety for those involved in the construction.
Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that recognizes and honours the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationships Indigenous peoples have with traditional lands and waters. Waterton Lakes National Park is part of the traditional territory and a place of significance for the Blackfoot (Niitsitapi). The land, water, air, animals, and plants are all interconnected with significant meaning, and are woven together into the fabric of contemporary Blackfoot life. Parks Canada is working closely with Káínai and Piikáni First Nations to jointly develop the new visitor centre’s interpretive programming. Once open, the centre’s interpretive exhibits and theatre will be a place where visitors can learn about Blackfoot culture, history, and their connection to what is now Waterton Lakes National Park.
Parks Canada very much values the relationship with the Blackfoot, and will continue to work closely with Káínai and Piikáni First Nations on matters relating to the management of Waterton Lakes National Park.
- The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
- The visitor centre’s interpretive design features a theme of Convergence: “a meeting place”. Indigenous stories, songs, graphics, symbols and exhibits are being incorporated into interpretive programming.
- In Waterton Lakes National Park, approximately $96 million has been invested in 18 projects through the Federal Infrastructure Investment Program, supporting high-quality and meaningful visitor experiences and helping to protect the environment. Under this program, the visitor centre is one of the most significant investments in visitor facilities in Waterton Lakes National Park in the past 50 years.
- The visitor centre is an investment in the future of Waterton Lakes National Park and will serve the park and its visitors for decades to come. The visitor centre is scheduled to open to the public in spring 2021.