Launch of PanCanadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network


In October, 2019, a diverse group of parks and protected areas researchers, practitioners, students, community partners, and knowledge holders held a full-day workshop to ask “how can we work together to improve parks and protected areas research, knowledge mobilization, & the development of advice for evidence-based decision-making.” 

Despite the disruptions of recent months, CPCIL has made progress behind the scenes with support from Parks Canada, the Canadian Parks Council, and our collaborating universities of Mount Royal University, York Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, and Royal Roads University. We are pleased to announce the launch of the Pan-Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network as part of the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership (CPCIL). 

This will be a new network for scientists, researchers, Indigenous knowledge holders, and students to connect and collaborate with parks and protected areas leaders, specialists, practitioners, and managers. Over the next three years, we will work with the parks and protected areas community to:

  1. Connect a network of researchers and practitioners, focusing on landscape-level networks and links to other existing networks.
  2. Share existing knowledge by curating and presenting transdisciplinary research in inclusive ways, highlighting practitioners and areas of expertise, and identifying mutually beneficial research ideas.
  3. Support academics, practitioners, journalists, elected officials, and decision makers in understanding and applying evidence in parks and protected areas.
  4. Build an intergenerational, interdisciplinary, inter-industry, and intercultural conversation about the value of parks and protected areas research.

The platform includes space to search profiles and connect with others, a tool to crowdsource research ideas, and space to share resources and highlight research and scholarship publications and events. We are also teaming up with Parks Canada to launch a Parks and Protected Areas Horizon Scan through the research network.

We invite you and your associates to join us on virtually on November 10th at 1pm Eastern Time to hear about the network, explore the platform, and engage in dialogue with others interested in parks and protected areas research and knowledge. A recording will be made available in the future.

Register for the November 10, 1pm Eastern, Launch and Dialogues

English Language Registration

French Language Simulcast Inscrivez-vous

Visit the Research Network:



Reconciliation – A Review of ‘Ha Ling Peak’

Preview image of Ha Ling Peak documentary by Brian Zimmerman

By Ebany Carratt

Ebany Carratt is part of a team of CPCIL Research and Knowledge Gatherers producing content and compiling resources on themes such as inclusion, ecosocial justice, partnerships, conservation, organizational sustainability, climate change and biodiversity, connection to nature, conservation financing, and ecotourism, to support effective and equitable leadership and inclusion in parks and protected areas across Canada. These positions are funded by Canada’s Green Jobs Program and supported by Project Learning Tree.

Growing up in Saskatchewan, I always had a strong appreciation for the Rockies. Every summer since I can remember, my family would make our yearly pilgrimage to the Banff area where my brothers and I would make a game of trying to accurately name every mountain that we could see outside of our car window. Approaching our stay in Canmore was always the best part and we’d frequently try to petition reasons to live there permanently to our parents, with little success. Nestled in a valley surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped limestone peaks, I always assumed Canmore was the perfect place to live. So I was shocked to learn in my early 20s that one of my favourite features, Ha Ling Peak, was not always called by that name.

Aerial view of Ha Ling, Canmore, Alberta.
Aerial view of Ha Ling. Photo by Wikimedia Commons User Kevin Lenz

According to the documentary ‘Ha Ling Peak’ by Bryce Zimmerman that aired on CBC in 2018, the story goes that a Canadian Pacific Railway cook named Ha Ling climbed the mountain in under 10 hours for a bet. Impressed by his abilities, the townspeople of Canmore decided to name the peak after him, but unfortunately, through time the mountain lost his given name and was simply referred to as “Chinaman’s Peak” well into the 1990s despite the term being a well-known racial slur. 

It took months for people like Roger Mah Poy, a long term resident and school teacher in Canmore, to publicly debate and educate people on why the name should be changed and how the term “chinaman” deprives Chinese people of their humanity, of their names. Looking to his children as a motivator for his activism, he said, “I want them to grow up in a world where it shouldn’t matter their racial background”.

It wasn’t easy to get public approval on changing the name, and even today, some still refer to the peak by the old name. The name change is something that I am personally glad happened, as I have never known the peak as anything other than Ha Ling Peak.

Reconciliation In Action

Not only did this documentary help me become more aware of what reconciliation looks like in action, but it also made me think more on the ways that names, especially when associated with places, hold so much political and historical power. It makes you question what power dynamics are at play when place naming occurs. Despite the success of renaming the peak to Ha Ling, it’s important to become aware that even before colonialism and before Ha Ling, Indigenous people had names for these places. They had emotional, traditional, and spiritual connections to those names that are unknown to people like me who only know one version of history.

Yet, through reconciling with the communities who have been harmed through exclusion and allowing them to play active roles in deciding what ways to reach reconciliation, we can change the narrative so that younger generations will know these histories naturally and understand the diverse world views that have existed before we settled here. Even Mah Poy said he approached the renaming of the peak with “ambivalence” because he was conscious of the fact that there was an Indigenous name for that peak, and a lovely story behind it. 

A Work in Progress

Despite the peak being renamed in 1997, many places within Alberta alone hold offensive, derogatory, or exclusionary names that Indigenous communities want to change. And while we’ve had some success especially in 2020 with the new naming of Upper Stoney Trail and Bald Eagle Peak, there is still much work to be done. For years the Stoney Nakoda people have been lobbying to change Tunnel Mountain to Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain (translation), with little success. We need to take this time to question the ways that supposedly inoffensive names (like tunnel mountain) or perceptions of nature/ethical place maintain a system of exclusion and inequality. 

View of the town of Canmore from the summit of Ha Ling. Photo by Bryce Zimmerman.
View of the town of Canmore from the summit of Ha Ling. Photo by Bryce Zimmerman.

It is my hope that through my series of blog posts exploring what reconciliation means through a consideration of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), the Indigenous Circle of Experts Report (ICE), and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC); that I can highlight the many different ways that we can achieve reconciliation by including Indigenous people, cultures, world views, and approaches to conserving the land into every aspect of national parks. 


Climate Change and Protected Places: Parks Canada’s adaptation framework and workshop approach


Journal: Parks Stewardship Forum, 36(1)

Title: Parks Canada’s adaptation framework and workshop approach: Lessons learned across a diverse series of adaptation workshops


Authors: Nelson, Elizabeth, Mathieu, Elyse, Thomas, Julia, et al.

Publication Date: 2020


Nelson, Elizabeth, Elyse Mathieu, Julia Thomas, Hilary Harrop Archibald, Hilary Ta, David Scar-
lett, Lydia Miller, Blythe MacInnis, Virginia Sheehan, Kristina Pompura, Donya Hassanzadeh,
Lillith Brook, Jennifer Grant, Dawn Carr, Laura Graham, Jenny Harms, Ramon Sales, Karen
Hartley, Robert Cameron, Cameron Eckert, Jessica Elliot, Delaney Boyd, and Dinah Tambalo.
2020. Parks Canada’s adaptation framework and workshop approach: Lessons learned across a
diverse series of adaptation workshops. Parks Stewardship Forum 36(1): 77–83.


In 2017, the Canadian Parks Council Climate Change Working Group, a team of federal, provincial, and territorial representatives, developed a Climate Change Adaptation Framework for Parks and Protected Areas, guiding practi- tioners through a simple, effective five-step adaptation process. This framework was adapted by Parks Canada into a two-day adaptation workshop approach, with 11 workshops subsequently held from September 2017 to May 2019 at Parks Canada sites in the Yukon, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Ontario. Lessons learned from each workshop have been integrated into the approach, with the development of tools and guidance for each phase of the process, and a shareable, visual “placemat” that describes each step of the framework, acting as a map for those navigating the process.

Link to Article


Active Engagement


Second part of a two-part blog post written as part of the 2019 Park Leaders Development Program.

Read part one here.

Every public servant has a role in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This includes a commitment to making sincere and meaningful changes to the way we engage with communities, manage park lands, and consider opportunities to co-create solutions together. 

The concept of Indigenous involvement in park vegetation management, specifically in prescribed burns, needed a closer look.  Through conversations with CPCIL participants, it was discovered that Alberta has been conducting inclusive engagement for Indigenous involvement in prescribed burns.  It is still in the early stages of engagement but it serves as a good example of communication, relationship building, and cooperation.

Scott Jevons, an alumni of the 2007 CPC Park Leadership Program who works with Alberta Environment and Parks, Kananaskis Region, shared some of his experience working with local Indigenous communities on consultation and engagement regarding prescribed burns in provincial parks.

Alberta’s Evan-Thomas 10-year Vegetation Management Strategy involved consultation with several local Indigenous communities.  Following the formal consultation, Stoney Nakoda First Nation wanted to remain engaged and active in park management. As stated on their website, the Stoney Nakoda are the original “people of the mountains” and have been actively involved in park management decision making.  For example, Stoney Nakoda wish to be notified prior to prescribed fires so they may gather medicinal plants or perform a traditional ceremonies.  And in 2017, in Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area, they conducted a traditional ceremony before a prescribed burn.  They also have had specific requests such as delaying a burn due to a study that they were conducting in the area.  Having this level of communication with the community, Alberta Parks was able to adjust their management to meet both their needs.   

Has Alberta Parks run into any challenges?  Scheduling can be difficult.  When conducting a prescribed burn, conditions such as soil moisture, vegetation, and weather need to be assessed on a day-to-day basis.  It can sometimes be difficult to offer substantial notice prior to a burn.  However, Alberta Parks have been doing their best to provide the most advanced notice as possible.

Any other challenges? Any other opportunities? Could other jurisdictions adopt a similar approach of engagement?  Alberta Parks is continuing to build stronger relationships with Indigenous communities and get a better understanding of Indigenous traditional knowledge and incorporate this into their planning.  The engagement of Alberta Parks with the community has proved beneficial for both groups.  What other mutually beneficial relationships could be developed across the country?

Join the discussion in the comments section below.


Exploring Indigenous Engagement in Park Management


First part of a two-part blog post written as part of the 2019 Park Leaders Development Program.

The Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership (CPCIL) provides an opportunity to network, build professional relationships, and learn from others’ experiences.  The Spring 2019 leadership program did exactly that: through discussions with other participants, ideas were shared on ways to involve Indigenous communities in park management.

Indigenous Peoples are the original stewards of the land and rely on natural spaces to pursue traditional activities such as trapping, hunting, fishing and medicinal plant collection. Provincial parks can play an important role in conserving the land and water where traditional activities take place.

Many jurisdictions have long time partnerships with Indigenous Peoples working to grow and manage park systems to help ensure sustainable land stewardship.  This relationship is important – to engage with communities, to understand the relationships and aspirations of Indigenous peoples, and to use this knowledge to guide constructive action.  Engagement and involvement can take many forms, including incorporating Indigenous perspectives and teachings into interpretive programming in parks, forming co-management agreements, and working cooperative on park management.

One example of Indigenous engagement in park activities that was shared at the spring 2019 leadership program was an experience in Waterton National Park.  In 2018 an extensive fire, named the Kenow wildfire, burned in the Waterton region following an intense lightning and thunder storm which burned 38,000 hectares including 19,303 hectares in Waterton Lakes National Park.   The fire had a significant impact on infrastructure and local communities.

Although some people had felt the forest was devastated, the landscape evolved with fire. Ecosystems are dynamic, changing and adapting in response to natural forces.  Fires also play a significant role for many Indigenous communities.  In some regions Indigenous Peoples used controlled burns to manage forests and grasslands. The timing and location of the fires were based on the traditional knowledge about their territories. These managed fires were an important component of their stewardship of the land.

The importance of fire and Indigenous culture were demonstrated following the Kenow fire where a local Indigenous community conducted a ceremony following the burn.  The Kenow fire was a natural event, but what about prescribed burns?  Are Indigenous communities involved in this park vegetation management practice?  Maybe local Indigenous communities would want to be a part of that process. The decision making around timing, location, and process could hold significance to some.  Indigenous involvement in the management of burns would also provide opportunities to conduct ceremony, if they wish, prior, during or post a fire event.  Is this type of cooperative engagement being done in any jurisdictions across Canada?  Are agencies involving Indigenous communities in managed burns?

Who is doing what, where, when, and why, and how can this be applied to other jurisdictions?  On my way to search for answers…

Go to Elvira’s next blog post