Plans are in the works for a bigger and better Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
A $40-million capital campaign was announced Thursday to help the park work towards a designation as a UNESCO world heritage site.
“This is a story of Canada, this is a story of our people. And we should all be proud of it,” said Dana Soonias, CEO of Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
The campaign consists of a $25-million fundraising goal and $15 million to acquire land to expand park boundaries.
With that comes a plan to bring in a small herd of bison to roam Wanuskewin for the first time in the modern era.
“They’ve provided food. They’ve provided shelter. And you need those connections back to the animals that were so vital to the survival of First Nations people,” said Chief Felix Thomas with the Saskatoon Tribal Council.
“The population numbers are coming up. And that’s one of the things that we say as First Nations people. It’s a story about resilience, as with our culture and our languages.”
The park is already about two-thirds of the way to its goal in the “Thundering Ahead” campaign.
Land donated by the City of Saskatoon has helped the park’s UNESCO bid.
In 2016, the city announced its support by agreeing to lease a tract of public land, around 375 acres adjacent to the park, for $1 a year for the next 99 years.
The renewal campaign will also mean a more robust education and interpretation component of indigenous art of culture at the centre.