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About the Park Leaders Development Program

Built on over ten years of parks systems leadership training, the CPCIL eight-month online and in-person collaborative program hones core leadership skills by exploring specific issues facing parks and protected areas and applying them to real-world challenges. The program also aims to build a pan-Canadian network of Park Leaders who can support each other—and their organization—long after the program concludes. 

The program involves online pre- and post-residency solo-tasks, a five-day face-to-face residency, and an applied team capstone project that will address a real-world challenge facing parks and protected areas in Canada.

“We all have the exact same problems, we just call them different things”
2019 Park Leader
“Outstanding opportunity to learn, share, and strengthen interagency leadership in parks and protected areas.”
2018 Park Leader
“Amazing and empowering! We were not just taught about leadership but practiced it, experienced it and shared it.”
2016 Park Leader
Park Systems

Park Leaders Blog

As part of the solo requirement for the program, some participants create blog posts and other online resources to share with the CPCIL community. We also post information on participant solo presentations, group capstone projects, and service learning work.

The nearly 300 past participants in Canadian Parks Council-supported leadership development are invited to join the Park Leaders Alumni Forum.



Core Program Themes

Indigenous Relations and Ethical Space

CPCIL is honoured to collaborate with organizations such as PLENTY Canada, IISAAK OLAM, the Conservation Through Reconciliation Partnership, and others to co-facilitate sessions and programs that work toward two-eyed seeing and Reconciliation.

Leading Organizational Change and Stability

The Program builds skills in systems thinking to help park leaders address personal and organizational change management, knowledge mobilization (science, social science, and interdisciplinary inquiry), and managing unknowns by understanding your purpose.

Managing Healthy Organizations

Programs tackle the sustainability of parks and protected areas by considering the culture, resources, and mandate of the organizations responsible for them. A major focus of recent residencies has also been tools to support the mental health of conservation professionals.

Effective Leadership Communication

Parks can succeed or fail based on the ability of leaders to facilitate transparent and effective dialogue. Activities and tasks throughout the Park Leaders Development program help participants write and speak persuasively with ethics, logic, and emotion.

Inclusion and Equity

While specific cohorts will dive deep into inclusion and accessibility, all programs are designed to incorporate diverse voices that demonstrate the importance of inclusion and empowerment in conservation and (re)connecting people to nature.

Ecosystem and Cultural Resources Management

The CPCIL Park Leaders Development Program moves to different regions in order to explore different parks, heritage, and landscapes. Each participant is required to share relevant challenges that highlight their role in conservation and/or park management.

Continuum of Parks and Protected Areas

Inspired by the Parks for All Action Plan for Canada's Parks Community, the Park Leaders Development Program celebrates "places reserved for conserving and experiencing Nature, with varying objectives but important complementary goals."

Program Themes

Climate Change and Biodiversity

How can Park Leaders ensure parks and protected areas adapt to maintain relevance and effectiveness in the Anthropocene?

Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Conservation and Connectivity
Climate Change Adaptation

Leadership and Parkanomics

How can Park Leaders articulate the value of parks and protected areas and improve their financial sustainability without compromising environmental and social integrity?

Understanding and Articulating the Value of Parks
Ecological Economics
Responding to Changing Resources and Priorities

Partnerships and Collaboration

How can Park Leaders amplify the efforts of communities and work equitably with partners without losing sight of their conservation mandate?

Indigenous, Community, & Municipal Relationships
Commercial Partnerships
Non-profit Partnerships and Social Enterprise

Inclusion and Equity

How can Park Leaders remove barriers and promote inclusion so parks and protected areas reflect Canada’s social diversity?

Accessibility and Barriers to Diversity
Women in Conservation Leadership
Youth Engagement

Connecting as Nature in Parks

How can Park Leaders create the conditions to reconnect people within nature-and as nature– through and beyond parks?

Broadening the Park Narrative
Customer Service & Visitor Experience
Education & Interpretation
Volunteer Management & Citizen Science

Program Calendar

Cohort Sub Theme Residency
Fall 2018

Leadership and Parkanomics

Learn More

Nov 11-17
Mount Royal University
Canmore, Alberta

Spring 2019

Partnerships and Collaboration

Learn More

May 5-10
York University
Killbear Provincial Park
Toronto, Ontario

Fall 2019
(in progress)

Inclusion and Equity

November 12-17
Royal Roads University
Victoria, British Columbia

Spring 2020
(program full)

Connecting as Nature in Parks

University of Moncton
New Brunswick

Fall 2020
(in planning - registration open)

Climate Change Adaptation

Expression of Interest

November 9-14 (tbc)
Mount Royal University

Spring 2021
(in planning)

Leadership and Parkanomics

Expression of Interest

April 25-30 (tbc)
York University

Fall 2021
(in planning)

Partnerships and Collaboration

Expression of Interest

November 14-19 (tbc)
Royal Roads University
British Columbia 

Spring 2022
(in planning)

Connecting as Nature in Parks

Expression of Interest

April 24-30 (tbc)

Fall 2022
(in planning)

Inclusion and Equity

Expression of Interest

November 14-19 (tbc)

We Invite You To Participate in the Park Leaders Development Program

Each Canadian Parks Council Member Agency has a number of priority placements in each intake selected through internal processes. CPC Member Agency staff should contact their representatives for information. Parks and protected area partners are encouraged to consider attending and should submit an expression of interest as there may be spaces available.

The CPCIL is committed to diversity and inclusion. We encourage Park Leaders of all abilities to consider this program. We will work together to accommodate all participants.


Registration Fee $3060 per participant

Registration fee is inclusive of eight months of pre- and post-residency support and five days of residency accommodation, ground transportation, and meals.


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This will involve email communication from the CPCIL. Consent can be removed at any time.