Wanuskewin and U of S renew education agreement
- NC Raine | August 26, 2021
A resounding message at Wanuskewin Heritage Park on Wednesday: in order for the world to recognize the historical and cultural importance of the park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it first needs to be recognized, and fully embraced, locally.
“I'm proud that in signing this memorandum of understanding, we can contribute to that effort,” said University of Saskatchewan President Peter Stoicheff at the signing. “(The UNESCO organization) said it would take the University to step up and be part of that, be part of a partnership, to show that there's a broad network of understanding and community engagement that Wanuskewin is at the centre of. I am very proud that we've been able to play that role and this signing is another indication of that strong commitment,” he said.
The University of Saskatchewan and Wanuskewin signed a renewed, three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support Indigenous education. The agreement will solidify the relationship between the two organizations, where they will collaborate in areas such as cultural resources, outreach programming, and facility use at both sites.
This is the second MOU signed between the two organizations, the first of which was signed in 2002.
“By continuing our relationship with the University of Saskatchewan, we affirm our commitment to growth and reconciliation,” said Darlene Brander, CEO of Wanuskewin. “By building partnerships in connection to cultural and educational resources, we in turn are strengthening our community.”
According to a release, the MOU confirmed the intent to work on land and place-based education initiatives, and cultural awareness programs with science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics colleges and departments.
“Wanuskewin is active in many different pursuits: archeology, science, history, environment conservation, stewardship, tourism, hospitality, the ag(riculture) and bio(logy) sectors, and more importantly, celebrating First Nations culture and history, and their aspirations for the future,” said Dr. Ernie Walker, Wanuskewin co-founder.
“Obviously, the University of Saskatchewan has significant academic expertise in all these areas, and that is why the signing of the MOU is so important. I hope this is the beginning of a long, fruitful collaboration together,” he said.
Walker spoke on the unlikely trajectory that Wanuskewin has taken, from a small ranch near Saskatoon to a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site. He called it an “epic Canadian story”.
Wanuskewin started their venture towards being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. Expansion and elaboration of cultural and scientific programming is a requirement of all site candidates.
“As we move toward UNESCO designation, we are proud to have such strong support from our university peers,” said Brander.
The signing was capped with a reading from Louise Bernice Half – Sky Dancer, Canada's Poet Laureate, who wrote a poem specially for the occasion.
Dr. Walker even shared his reflections on the spirit of Wanuskewin.
“If you can't see it, focus more intently, and it will reveal its mysteries to you. If you can't hear it, listen carefully and it will call to you. And if you can't understand it, open your hearts and it will embrace you, and you will fall in love with it.”