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CPCIL Past and Future History

Both professional development among federal, provincial, and territorial park agencies and collaborative research about parks and protected areas took root in the 1960s. While each area of work has grown through decades of courses, working groups, conferences, summits, and research project, the recent development of the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership has blossomed into an interface between research and practice.

Created in 2018 by a multi-party collaboration of park agencies and academic collaborators, CPCIL has since connected with other agencies and institutions with mutual interests related to effective and equitable park leadership. Parks Canada supported the development of the CPCIL Parks and Protected Areas Research Network and the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership offers guidance for working with Indigenous conservation leaders in ethical space.

In the future, the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership will thrive through more cooperation within the parks system, more collaboration among the broader protected and conserved areas community,  more integration of research with practice, and more effort to weave together different worldviews and knowledge systems.

The Collective Timeline

While CPCIL was only formed in 2018, the values of the collective came from decades of professional, academic, and inclusion-focused initiatives that are still evolving today. The CPCIL community gratefully acknowledges those who have guided this history and the many knowledge holders, practitioners and curious youth who are guiding us now.

1962
Canadian Parks Council
The Canadian Parks Council was formed in 1962 as a federal, provincial, and territorial board to foster information sharing and collaboration among senior park leaders. The CPC represents the interests of 14 governments, over 2,700 parks, and has a shared mandate to enhance the environmental, social and economic values of national, provincial and territorial parks throughout Canada. Their efforts range from working groups on climate change and youth engagement, research on the economic value of parks, and broader cooperation with the entire continuum of parks.
1962
1962-1995
Canadian Parks Council (CPC)
Hinton Park Managers Training Program
Professional Development was an early priority of the CPC. Beginning in the 1960s, park agencies would send managers to the Hinton Training Centre in Alberta for an operational course focused on the effective management of park sites and facilities. The "Hinton Course" was a popular development opportunity for park leaders for nearly three decades and demonstrated the high value of connecting park managers across jurisdictions.
1962-1995
1968
Parks for Tomorrow Conference
In 1968, the University of Calgary - along with national and provincial park agencies - hosted a conference with the theme "The Canadian national parks: today and tomorrow." The connections shaped the Canadian parks narrative for decades.
Nelson, James Gordon. & Scace, Robert C. & University of Calgary. & National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada. (1969). The Canadian national parks: today and tomorrow. Proceedings of a conference organized by the National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada and the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, October 9th-15th, 1968.
1968
1978 & 1985
Parks for Tomorrow II & III Conference
Follow-up conferences were held in 1978 and 1985. The proceedings of the first two conferences are available on the History of Parks Canada website (external link).
1978 & 1985
2005 to 2015
CPC Park System
Leadership Course
In 2005, the Canadian Parks Council contracted a team of facilitators from Royal Roads University to develop and deliver a leadership development program for mid-career park leaders. Led by Course Director Dr. Alice MacGillivray, the Park Systems Leadership Program moved beyond the operational nature of the Hinton Course to support emerging park leaders facing complex issues. The program was anchored in a real-world problem-based learning challenge developed by a host park agency. The program further demonstrated the value of connecting park leaders across jurisdictions. Each year, cohorts showed interest in creating ongoing communities of practice.
2005 to 2015
2008
40th Anniversary Parks for Tomorrow Conference
In 2008, the University of Calgary, federal and provincial park agencies, and a series of ENGOs hosted a 40th Anniversary Conference of the first Parks for Tomorrow Conference. Over 130 presentations addressed the theme "Canadian Parks for Tomorrow: 40th Anniversary Conference Assessing Change, Accomplishment and Challenge In Canadian Parks and Protected Areas".
Full Proceedings are available on line at the linked URL (https://prism.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/100012)
2008
2011
CPC Youth Engagement Working Group
In imagining an inclusive parks system 30 years from now, the CPC Youth Engagement Working Group pictured parks reflecting the diversity of Canadian society, adapting to the changing ways that people interact with the natural world, and sincere youth engagement that would establish lifelong relationships with the natural world. The youth referred to themselves as "indicator species" of a relevant and sustainable park system. The youth advisory panel stressed the importance of empowering and involving youth as collaborators and listening to their voices -- an idea that continues to shape the CPCIL youth knowledge gatherers and research assistants.
2011
2015
Parks For All
The Parks For All Action Plan was created by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA), the Canadian Parks Council (CPC), and others from across the continuum of parks, protected areas. Through a collaborative and open process--guided by Indigenous knowledge and the basic laws of reciprocity, the document set a vision for inclusive and hopeful parks system. Three calls for collaboration in leadership informed the design and development of CPCIL:
• INCLUDE as a matter of course youth and young professionals in inter-generational dialogues for parks decision-making.
• PROMOTE social equity, diversity, and inclusion in staffing and leadership across the parks community
• ESTABLISH practical, robust, and accessible platforms for sharing and supporting information about parks, with options for sharing all forms of traditional knowledge.
• DEVELOP a National Centre of Excellence in park management, in which the parks community can convene to share knowledge and best practices and deliver training.
2015
2016
CPC Professional & Personal Development Working Group
After twelve years delivering the Park Systems Leadership Course to over 250 participants, changing learning technologies, various travel restrictions, and emerging system-wide challenges motivated the the Canadian Parks Council (CPC) to convene a cross-jurisdictional working group to examine the evolving Professional and Personal Development (PPD) needs of federal, provincial and territorial park leaders. Working with a consultant, the team conducted an inventory, analysis, and jurisdictional scan and developed recommendations for PPD options and investments for the CPC.
2016
2016
Final Park System Leadership Course: Doing Better Together
In 2016, the final cohort of the CPC Park Systems Leadership Course was not only hosted by Alberta Parks but was also co-facilitated by Mount Royal University and guided by Stoney-Nakoda knowledge holder Thomas Snow. In addition, two student research assistants from the Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership Program joined the team to support the experience, connect participants with research related to the problem based learning challenge, and gave the students an opportunity to connect with experienced leaders as they started their careers. Link opens a story by Mount Royal University.
2016
2017-2020 and beyond
Pathway to Target One
In 2015, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments set out a series of four goals and nineteen targets for meeting Canada's priorities for biodiversity conservation and our collective commitment to meeting the Aichi Targets. Target 1 - the protection of 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water an 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020, was addressed through a visionary, collaborative approach that recognizes the integral role of Indigenous peoples as conservation leaders and respects their rights, responsibilities, and priorities. Pathway produced three foundational reports that highly inform the work of CPCIL:

• We Rise Together - Report of the Indigenous Circle of Experts
• One With Nature - A Renewed Approach to Land and Freshwater Conservation in Canada
• Canada's Conservation Vision - A Report of the National Advisory Panel
2017-2020 and beyond
2017
Canadian Parks Conference (Banff)
Featuring over 100 speakers, this significant event invigorated and 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. The Canadian Parks Conference was a successful demonstration of the value of collaboration among practitioners, academics, civil society, and knowledge holders - and again proved that we can do better together.
2017
2017
Parks and Knowledge Mobilization
Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant and led by University of Alberta, this project aims at improving understanding of how different kinds of knowledge, including natural and social sciences, as well as Indigenous and local knowledge, are valued and used to advance protected and conserved area management, planning and policy making. The focus is on knowledge mobilization or “moving knowledge into active service” (SSHRC, 2008). In other words, making research accessible, so that it can be put into practice. This project forms a key part of the foundation of a parks research network. You can learn about the study and read the related case studies on the CPCIL site.
2017
2018
CPC Call for Proposals for Professional Development
Acting on the recommendations of the PDD Working Group and the success of the 2016 leadership program, the Canadian Parks Council sought to establish a partnership with an academic institution to create a nationally consistent, dynamic and coordinated approach to professional development for park and protected area professionals in Canada that extends beyond the delivery of a Parks Leadership Course. The successful bid came from a consortium including Mount Royal University, York University's Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, and the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Mount Royal University.
2018
2018
Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership
CPCIL was formed through a Partnering Agreement and Contribution Agreement between the Canadian Parks Council and the Mount Royal University Institute for Environmental Sustainability. The agreement established a Senior Fellow position to lead the revitalization of the CPC Professional Development Program and to build this new Collective.
The first Leadership Development Program of CPCIL was held in fall, 2018 in the Rocky Mountains. As of 2021, over 100 mid-career leaders and nearly twenty young professionals have participated in the revitalized program.
2018
2019
Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership
The Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders, scholars, and knowledge mobilization specialists to act on the recommendations of the Indigenous Circle of Elders. The project is led by an Elders Lodge who guides partners in upholding Two-Eyed Seeing and Ethical Space. Strategic direction and oversight is offered by an Indigenous Leadership Circle. All research is driven by Indigenous Nations and communities.

A key objective of CPCIL leadership development is to ensure parks and protected areas leaders are aware of the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership and can look to it for guidance.
2019
2019
Canadian Parks Conference II (Québec City)
The Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq), hosted the second edition of the Canadian Parks Conference in Québec City on the topic "Parks for all and all for parks." This gathering advanced pan‑Canadian initiatives, shared expertise and best practices, and celebrated different ways of knowing by working together with Indigenous and non‑indigenous communities.

CPCIL played a supporting role by bringing transformative learning approaches to the conference planning process and hosted the closing plenary panel of non-park perspectives ("unusual suspects") who reflected the conference messages back to attendees.
2019
2019
CPCIL Pan Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network
While several networks such as the Centre of Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA) and the British Columbia Parks and Protected Areas Forum (BCPARF) effectively support engagement between academics and practitioners regionally, interest in establishing a broader research network to address current issues and opportunities in parks and protected areas across Canada motivated Parks Canada and CPCIL to co-host an exploratory workshop at the Quebec City Parks Conference. Over a full day of collaboration, a diverse group of practitioners, academics, Indigenous organizations and community partners worked to identify mutual needs, generate priorities, and inform how we might design, govern, and support a Pan-Canadian research network for parks and protected areas. CPCIL youth research assistants supported the process and provided complementary perspectives.
2019
2020-2021
Knowledge Gatherers Program
With funding from Canada's Green Jobs program through Project Learning Tree, CPCIL built on the previous success of youth research assistants. The Youth Knowledge Gatherers expanded the parks narrative by representing a diversity of people and from disciplines beyond the typical fields related to parks and protected areas. The Knowledge Gatherers team was selected for their ability to offer underrepresented perspectives (e.g., women, youth, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, LGBTQ+, or persons with disabilities), their complementary educational backgrounds, and their love of nature. Over the year, these youth supported Capstone Team projects, facilitated CPCIL events, and wrote blog articles to celebrate new ways of defining a park leader. The 2021 youth-led webinar is linked here.
2020-2021
2021
CPCIL Pan Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Summit
From March 9th to 13th, 2021, knowers, doers, and learners from across the country came together virtually at the inaugural Parks and Protected Areas Research Network Research Virtual Summit. This conference was made possible thanks to the collaborative partners of Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership, Mount Royal University, Parks Canada, Canadian Parks Council, and York University Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Nearly 200 registrants from British Columbia to Nunavut to Prince Edward Island were in attendance for various sessions throughout this pan-Canadian summit. All came with the common goal to learn, collaborate, and share knowledge about parks and protected areas
2021
2022
Future Directions
In just three years the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership multiple relationships have been forged between scholars and park practitioners through collaborative research projects and the newly launched Pan-Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network. In this third year of the CPCIL project, IES and the collaborating institutions further demonstrated the value of working to reveal, connect, and transform an inclusive pan-Canadian community of parks and protected areas leaders.

As we approach the renewal of the Partnering Agreement, it is clear that the CPCIL platform offers value to leaders beyond federal, provincial, and territorial park agencies. The Collective can benefit protected and conserved areas, landscape-level conservation, and partners in community conservation.

It is also clear that the success of CPCIL will depend on braiding Western natural and social sciences with Indigenous conservation leadership and local, professional knowledge.
2022