Parks Rx Nature Prescriptions


Taking Action to Connect Nature and Health

Conversations about promoting the health benefits of nature based experiences in parks and protected areas are common within the parks and protected areas community and among health care practitioners. At the 2019 Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Healthy Parks Healthy People conference in 2019, delegates from both the parks community and the health sector sparked an initiative to create PaRx (, a national program for prescribing nature-based experiences and turning the conversation about health and parks into action

“In light of everything happening during the global pandemic, and the intensive use and interest in parks, the timing could not be better for the BC Parks Foundation to launch Canada’s first national, evidence-based nature prescription program.”

Launching in BC, PaRx will grow through grassroots initiatives across Canada that will offer an opportunity for communities, health care providers, and patients to take action that connects wellbeing with nature-based activities.

Building on international initiatives, PaRx offers an evidence-based nature prescription program, quick tips and patient handouts, and opportunities to join a vibrant movement that can benefit Canadians while demonstrating the growing importance of parks and protected areas for human health and well-being.

Read the BC Parks Foundation Launch Announcement here


Conservation Through Reconciliation Resources


Working Towards a Solutions Bundle

The Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership is working with its partners to create The Solutions Bundle, an interactive website designed in Ethical Space to help build knowledge, capacity, and relationships in support of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) and Indigenous conservation leadership. The Solutions Bundle will combine the concepts of a western toolkit and an Indigenous medicine bundle and will serve as an example of Two-Eyed Seeing where Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge systems will be valued equally.  

The CRP is aiming to launch the Solutions Bundle in June 2021. In the meantime, we have created a temporary research engine to house resources and help share information.

Please visit to learn more. To contribute resources or share ideas for improving the search function, please contact


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. 


Communicating the Benefits of Connecting to Nature


Today’s post comes from Catherine Reining, a graduate in the Master of Environmental Studies program at Wilfrid Laurier University, who recently attended the 2019 Canadian Parks Conference in Quebec City.


We know spending time in nature offers health and well-being benefits, but what role do parks and protected areas play?

Parks and protected areas contribute significantly to physical, mental, spiritual, social, and environmental well-being by providing access to the natural environment where people can experience nature, have contact with plants and wildlife, and participate in a variety of activities year-round.

However, less is known about the experiences and environmental characteristics of parks and other forms of protected areas that influence these benefits such as the type of environment (i.e., forest, beach), quality of the environment (i.e., ecological integrity), and the amount of time spent in nature needed to have a beneficial health impact.


I recently completed my Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) at Wilfrid Laurier University under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Lemieux and Dr. Sean Doherty. Through my research, I collaborated with staff at Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada to better understand how visitor experiences provided by diverse natural environments in the park influence human health and well-being. My research explores the association between visitor’s self-reported restorative outcomes with the type and quality (ecological integrity) of the natural environments they experience. The results revealed high overall restorative outcomes from contact with nature, irrespective of visitor’s self-reported state of mental and physical health. While the type of environment had little influence, the perceived integrity of the environment had the greatest impact on restorative outcomes. This is the first study in Canada to consider the influence of ecological integrity on restorative outcomes, an important contribution to existing research.

In October 2019, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Canadian Parks Conference and present my work under the Connection to Nature conference stream. The findings of my work highlight the importance of quality protected areas for providing restorative outcomes and will hopefully help to deliver planning and management interventions park managers can use for health promotion in parks. Presenting at the conference awarded an opportunity to showcase my research as well as engage other academics and practitioners in the conversation about the health and well-being benefits parks provide.

One of the highlights of my time at the Canadian Parks Conference was facilitating a pre-conference workshop hosted by the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership (CPCIL) and Parks Canada. The workshop consisted of a diverse group of practitioners, academics, indigenous organizations, and community partners coming together to identify needs and explore options on how to design, govern, and support a potential Pan-Canadian research network for parks and protected areas. As a Student Researcher, my role included working with one of the breakout groups during activities and contributing youth perspectives throughout. This was a great day filled with learning and sharing. As a student, I enjoyed hearing from leaders in the field and appreciated the opportunity to be part of the dialogue.

Throughout the pre-conference workshop on pan-Canadian research networks, I found myself reflecting on my own research, especially when beginning to consider how to build an inclusive network that translates the value of parks and protected areas between park managers and visitors. Throughout the conference, attendees heard about the various ways to connect to nature (e.g., health benefits, urban nature, parks as classrooms, technology in parks, etc.), but one important question stood out to me in the CPCIL workshop:

How do we put this information into a mechanism to communicate decision-making to the public?

It’s an important question. How do we not only create a network amongst each other, but amongst the public as well? In considering planning and management interventions informed by my own research, I will have to consider the challenges of balancing the dual mandate of maintaining ecological integrity and visitor use in parks. How to communicate the importance of ecological integrity to visitors while also encouraging visits for restorative benefits.

The workshop hosted by CPCIL and Parks Canada provided those in attendance an opportunity to share their insights and experiences as the first step in a larger process of creating a network that will allow for knowledge mobilization and evidence-based decision making (and there are a lot of great ideas!).

The Canadian Parks Conference offered personal and professional development, providing an opportunity to connect with other youth leaders and practitioners working on conservation issues. It was an excellent learning opportunity that initiated important conversation and reflection that I plan to carry forward.

Participation in the conference was supported by CPCIL and by Laurier’s McMurry Research Chair in Environmental Geography, Dean of Arts, Office of Research Services, and Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.


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


University of Guelph Master of Conservation Leadership


University of Guelph Master of Conservation Leadership program launching May 2020

Original Story Posted by University of Guelph

“The Master of Conservation Leadership takes a unique, interdisciplinary approach to its pedagogy. This conservation specific leadership program, much like an MBA, is designed for the working professional. It provides students the flexibility to complete course work while at the same time continuing to work in the field with their organization. Like the PhD in Social Practice and Transformational Change, the new Master of Conservation Leadership has students develop an individualized development plan. In addition, a recognized expert in the conservation sector acts as a “Leadership Coach,” helping guide students through the program.

This new program, targeted to start in May 2020, fills a gap in the Canadian conservation sector. Formerly, Canadian conservation professionals seeking post-graduate training to upgrade their knowledge base and assume greater administrative responsibilities would have to turn to programs in resource management or more generalist programs in business or public administration. This program allows students to focus on leadership as it pertains specifically to conservation. It uniquely integrates Indigenous ways of knowing with the strengths of Western conservation practices, allows students to collaborate with leading experts in conservation and teaches them innovative techniques that prepare them for senior leadership roles in the conservation sector.

“We are excited to launch this innovative new program which fosters resilient leaders who are able to respond to rapidly changing ecological and political contexts,” says Robin Roth, program director and associate professor in the department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics.”