Bringing Wapusk to Winnipeg
© Parks Canada
Public Outreach Education Officer, Manitoba Field Unit
Wapusk News - Issue 8, 2015
Helping people who live in Canada’s cities get in touch with distant places like Wapusk National Park (NP) is one of Parks Canada’s primary goals for public outreach education.
In May 2014 Parks Canada launched an enthusiastic outreach education team, which included several summer students, in Winnipeg. From the Assiniboine Park Zoo to the Manitoba Children’s Museum to Festival du Voyageur—Parks Canada staff brought stories of national parks and national historic sites in Manitoba to eager urban audiences. The new Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo proved to be the perfect setting for introducing people to Parks Canada’s role in monitoring polar bears and protecting their denning areas in Wapusk NP. Throughout July and August, over 13,000 visitors learned about this fascinating park through fun activities such as the “Wapusk Polar Bear Quiz”. (How many of these visitors have now added Churchill to their vacation wish list?)
In November 2014 Parks Canada participated in the Science in Canada’s North event series at the Manitoba Children’s Museum in Winnipeg. Dr. Wanli Wu (Ecological Monitoring Specialist, Parks Canada) contributed his expertise to an interactive touch table about scientific research in Wapusk NP which included opportunities for families to learn more about polar bears, ringed seals, caribou and sea ice mapping. Visitors had fun trying on a polar bear tracking collar, sinking their fingers into plush caribou fur, watching wolves investigate field cameras at a remote research camp and observing an animated model of sea ice changes in Hudson Bay—to name just a few activities.
Thousands of visitors were virtually transported to Wapusk NP in February 2015 at Festival du Voyageur—western Canada’s largest winter festival. Through GreenScreen® technology, participants posed “on the tundra,” and had the opportunity to learn about caribou and polar bears in the process. The fun electronic photos were e-mailed to festival-goers to be shared with friends and family.
Zoos, museums and festivals can act as urban gateways to national treasures like Wapusk NP. These attractions are proving to be wonderful places to reach Winnipeg audiences in the thousands and share the stories of the park.