Friends of the Park ensuring Indigenous culture a part of PA National Park
- EFN Staff | July 01, 2019
A well-known Indigenous artist is helping the Prince Albert National Park become more inclusive to Indigenous culture.
Ernie Scoles, president of Friends of the Park, has been with the organization for five years now where he started off as a member of the board, then moved to the vice-president and now holds the chair of the president.
“We are bringing back that culture alive into the park that’s been there for 6,000 years,” he said. “We have a museum out there now…but it [did] not showcase the Metis or Indigenous culture that has existed there for thousands of years. It’s our job to bring this out and celebrate it and to let people know the story behind the Waskesiu Lake in Treaty 6 territory.”
Friends of the Park is a non-profit organization going on 37 years. This is a multicultural group where they bring in different kinds of entertainment, programming and workshops to the park.
He specializes in the Indigenous culture for the park and has helped rewrite the bylaws to put more Indigenous content into those bylaws based on a five-year plan.
“We are putting together an Indigenous ensemble where we have dancers coming, traditional games for kids and we have the Strong Sisters coming to perform and Raven Reid coming to perform,” said Scoles. “We want to make this a regular thing with the Lakeside Music Festival. We are on Treaty 6 territory and we should have that representation.”
Scoles added bringing a cultural centre to Waskesiu will be informative to all visitors of the park.
“The cultural centre is what not only brings out the truth, the bad and also the good. All of it needs to be told,” he said. “It’s the only way to let the public know the inception of the park of how it was and how it came to be. It wasn’t a great start to it for the Indigenous and Metis. Stories like that need to be told…to make sure that history is told properly.”
The bookstore will be opening up on the third week of June which is basically the Friends of the Park’s main headquarters where the events happen out of.
They will start with a 7-week music series starting on June 29th every Saturday afternoons from 1-3 where Indigenous, Metis and non-Indigenous performers will come in. Friends of the Park will be putting on a cabaret on the Canada Day long weekend to kick off the summer festivities. Scoles plans on bringing in a Metis fiddler and dancers as well. The Friends of the Park are working with a few groups in Waskesiu to get the street closed down to have a street fair in August.
He added the Friends of the Park are talking about bringing in a mini-powwow for the labour day long weekend to show off the Indigenous and Metis culture.
To bring in such cultural programming, collaborated ideas come from Carol Crowe who is on the Board of Directors with the Friends of the Park and has been involved for six years now.
Crowe got involved with Friends of the Park as she is a direct descendent of Grey Owl’s wife Anahareo who was her aunty.
She said this year; the Friends of the Park wants to focus this year on Indigenous languages as 2019 is proclaimed the year of the Indigenous languages.
“I’ve done a lot of research, the stories and the history of the past has to be acknowledged,” she said. “This is the year for Truth and Reconciliation as well. So, what we want to do in the bookstore, there’s a little room and we want to change it to a storytelling room of the past of the people who once lived in the area.”
Crowe wants to highlight overlooked stories such as the efforts made by her aunty Anahareo who stopped inhumane trapping of beavers in Canada and received an Order of Canada for that. Stories like that are essential for visitors and tourists coming to the park.