Wanuskewin seeks United Nations world heritage status

Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon announced today that it plans to apply for status as a United Nations world heritage site.

Plan includes bringing plains bison back to site

The plan will see managers bring some prairie bison back to the Wanuskewin site. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatoon announced today that it plans to apply for status as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage designated site, which if accepted would make it the first in the province. 

If the park is granted the designation, it will join the ranks of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Vatican City, among many other iconic sites throughout the world.

"As a result of a great deal of work and collaboration, Wanuskewin has renewed its original vision," said Wanuskewin Board Chair, Candace Wasacase-Lafferty. "Our journey is just beginning, but we are excited to embark in the process of applying to UNESCO for recognition as a World Heritage Site. Our announcement today is an early first step, and we look forward to one day welcoming the world to Wanuskewin."
First day of summer at Wanuskewin. Forest fire evacuees staying in Saskatoon shelters will get a chance to visit the park this week to get a break from the waiting and the boredom. (Matthew Kruchak/CBC)

MLA Ken Cheveldayoff also attended the day's announcement, noting that the government is excited to support Wanuskewin's application efforts to bring global recognition to this remarkable heritage resource."

The park's UNESCO application is part of its renewal project, which also involves "preserving the ecology and biodiversity of the site, expanding the land base to meet UNESCO's criteria and returning a small herd of Plains bison to their native prairie habitat," said a release emailed by Wanuskewin.

"The bison are what drew Indigenous peoples to Wanuskewin for thousands of years," Tribal Chief Felix Thomas from the Saskatoon Tribal Council said. "By understanding their story of near extinction, we are able to better understand the stories of Canada's indigenous peoples. Bringing back the bison will be symbolic of the recognition of Indigenous cultures in Canada."

The renewal project also involves renovations and expansions for the facility, dedicate additional green space and grassland reclamation and increase Saskatoon's reputation as a global tourism destination, the release said.

Local politicians attended the day's announcement at Wanuskewin. (Submitted by Wanuskewin Heritage Park)