On Friday, Wanuskewin Heritage Park officially announced its intention to seek a UNESCO World Heritage Designation.
Wanuskewin would be Saskatchewan’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.
The process is a lengthy and possibly expensive one that could take six to 10 years before Wanuskewin may be approved for the designation.
“Our journey is just beginning,” says Wanuskewan Board Chair Candace Wasacase-Lafferty. “Our announcement today is an early first step, and we look forward to one day welcoming the world to Wanuskewin.”
Wasacase-Lafferty was joined by a panel of dignitaries featuring Saskatoon Tribal Chief Felix Thomas, MLA Ken Cheveldayoff and Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison all speaking on the historic announcement.
“Wanuskewin Heritage Park links our past to the present and future of our region,” says Mayor Atchison.
“This renewal will highlight the cultural and historic importance of Wanuskewin Heritage Park,” says Ken Cheveldayoff.
In order to receive the UNESCO designation Wanuskewin would have to complete a renewal process on the park to meet certain criteria.
Wanuskewin officials say the renewal process would see renovation and expansion at the main facility, and land area.
One of the steps would also involve returning a small herd of plains bison to the area around Wanuskewin.
“The bison are what drew Indigenous peoples to Wanuskewin for thousands of years,” says STC chief Felix Thomas. “Bringing back the bison will be symbolic of the recognition of Indigenous cultures in Canada.”
Chief Thomas says the small herd would most likely come from a larger herd in Montana and it would likely be 5 years before they arrive in Wanuskewin.
Wanuskewin officials were unable to provide an estimated cost of the renewal process at this time.
Officials do say they are in conversation with both the provincial and federal governments as well as private donors to help make this process become a reality.