Three years from now Wanuskewin Heritage Park is set to become a world-renowned center for education, entertainment and tourism. On Thursday, the park unveiled its $40-million plan for renewal.
The expansion and renovation is necessarily for the park to be designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
“A UNESCO World Heritage Site in a city is rare, but to have this kind of culture and history from over 6,000 years ago is substantial,” Wanuskewin CEO Dana Soonias said.
“This is the story of Canada, of our people. It’s a story of our history. We should all be proud of it.”
Two-thirds of the funds have already been raised for the renovation. Wanuskewin is hoping Saskatchewan residents will pull together and fund the remaining.
The Thundering Ahead capital campaign consists of a $25-million cash fundraising goal and $15-million to acquire surrounding land for bison.
“This is a legacy for Saskatoon, it’s a legacy for Saskatchewan. We’re all here, we live here. This is a history we can share with everyone,” Soonias added.
The renewal plan includes reintroducing interactive exhibit galleries, improving educational offerings, expanding and renovating the facility, and introducing a herd of plains bison.
“The bison brought us to this valley and sustained us physically, spiritually and economically,” Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas said.
“Bringing back the bison represents healing for our communities. It will be a significant homecoming.”
“For First Nation’s people the bison are the most majestic animals that kept people alive. They provided food, shelter and ceremonies,” he added.
The park’s board can’t specify exactly when the renewal will be completed. The toughest part will be acquiring the surrounding land for the bison and returning the farm land to natural plains.