Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Steven Guilbeault was on hand for the ceremonial opening on Tuesday.
He said, “Waterton Lakes National Park’s new visitor centre is the result of years of collaboration and hard work between the Government of Canada and local Indigenous partners.”
“Canada has invested approximately $167 million in the park as part of the largest federal infrastructure investment program in the history of Parks Canada. This landmark project is an investment in the future,” Guilbeault said.
He continued, “The visitor centre will welcome Canadians and visitors from around the world for years to come. It will provide opportunities to learn about the park’s environmental and cultural significance, including the area’s importance to local Indigenous communities.”
Parks Canada worked with Indigenous partners from the Kainai and Piikani Nations to make sure materials developed for the centre accurately reflect the local Indigenous history, tradition and culture of the area. The centre features outdoor and indoor exhibits that guests can enjoy during their visit.
Chief Roy Fox of the Kainai Nation said, “The new Waterton Lakes Centre is tangible proof that other governments are beginning to understand the significance and importance of our ways and lands towards a more meaningful relationship between the Nitsitapi and other North Americans.”
“We are proud of the collaborative work that our Elders and historians have contributed in providing the essential information to the understanding representatives of the Waterton Lakes National Park and this relationship was based on mutual respect and trust,” he stated.
“The Kainai Blood Tribe is always prepared to work with other governments on important matters however there has to be a sincere and trustworthy relationship between and amongst us and that includes the political leaders of the Federal Government.”
Meanwhile, Ron Hallman said he believes the facility “will be a central hub in Waterton village for Parks Canada to welcome visitors and share the story of this land and its original inhabitants, and showcase the many wonderful experiences the national park has to offer.”
“The centre’s interpretive elements, highlighting Blackfoot culture, are central to the building and to the experience it offers. Parks Canada is grateful to Indigenous communities and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers across the country who are partners in our goal of conserving natural and cultural heritage and preserving treasured places like Waterton Lakes for generations to come,” Hallman said.
More information on the new Waterton Lakes Visitor Centre is at the Parks Canada website.