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Posted / by Anna Holtby

First-Ever Canadian Parks Conference

Canada’s parks leaders convene for first-time collaborative event

From March 8-11, the iconic peaks of Banff hosted Canadians passionate about parks, gathering to encourage one another in working towards unified goals for our natural spaces.

The Canadian Parks Conference kicked off Wednesday evening at the Banff Centre, with a celebration of Indigenous culture from the Treaty 7 area. The event included a performance of traditional dancing and drumming from the award-winning Blackfoot Confederacy group. Elder Dave Courchene Jr. of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba spoke on the “Spiritual Connection to Land and Reconciliation."

“This conference was an important opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the connection of Canada's Indigenous peoples to our country's protected places,” said Michael Nadler, conference co-chair and vice president of external relations and visitor experience for Parks Canada.

Featuring over 100 speakers, the event mobilized important voices from across the parks sector, including those from Indigenous communities, all three levels of government, non-profits, businesses and post-secondary schools. For four days, these leaders discussed the celebration, protection and significance of Canada’s landscape – from local community open spaces to national parks.

“Nature doesn’t stop at political boundaries,” said Nancy McMinn, conference co-chair and parks superintendent for the City of Charlottetown, P.E.I. “For the very first time we’re all recognizing how important it is to be a part of this cross-country network.”

The event included addresses by six-time Olympic medalist, Clara Hughes, federal minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, and provincial minister of environment and parks, Shannon Phillips.

           Olympic Medalist Clara Hughes

              Minister Catherine McKenna

                    Minister Shannon Phillips

“This opportunity to discuss what is fundamental to nation-building in Canada, to express our connection to the land – it’s invaluable,” said Mike Walton, conference program committee co-chair and senior manager of the Capital Regional District Parks in Victoria, B.C. “After all, Canadians have a strong relationship with the outdoors – always have, and I believe, always will.”

Note, if you would like specific photos taken at the conference sent to you, please contact ARPA's Communications Coordinator, Anna Holtby, at