The role of Parks Canada’s Warden Service has evolved over the years; and today, park wardens are law enforcement specialists who ensure legislation, such as the Canada National Parks Act and the Species at Risk Act, are enforced and respected. Taylor Vandersluis recently joined the team working as a Park Warden at Pukaskwa National Park.

 

shoreLINES: Tell us a little about yourself and why you became a Park Warden at Parks Canada.

Taylor Vandersluis: I’ve been a Park Warden with the Parks Canada Law Enforcement Branch for just over six months now, after transferring from the Canada Border Services Agency. I was drawn to this position for a number of reasons, one being the satisfaction I get from knowing I am protecting at risk species and ecosystems. I also enjoy the autonomy, as I am often patrolling our beautiful parks alone, and am required to make decisions and solve problems as they arise.

sL: What qualifications and training does your job require?

TV: There are two ways of becoming a Parks Canada Warden. The first is the civilian route, which requires a university degree and experience in resource conservation and enforcement. Recently, however, Parks Canada sought “Experienced Officers,” which is how I joined the branch. This posting required a minimum of two years of experience as an “Armed Peace Officer,” with working knowledge of the Criminal Code of Canada, arrest procedures, search authorities, etc. I gained this experience as a Border Services Officer working at one of the busiest land borders in Canada.

The training is extremely rigorous, and includes mock use-of-force scenarios. Along with learning how to use defensive tools, recruits are taught the importance of verbal de-escalation, how to read body language, and to assess volatile situations. Recruits hone their marksmanship skills on the range, and study different types of legislation found in the Criminal Code of Canada. Park Wardens mainly utilize the Canada National Parks Act, which contains hundreds of regulations varying from littering laws to highway traffic laws.

sL: People might think you spend all day out in the park on patrols. Is this the case, or can you describe a typical work day in your role?

TV: At the risk of sounding cliché, there really is no typical work day. While patrolling the national park does make up a significant portion of my duties, Park Wardens have many other responsibilities. I could arrive for my shift and be advised that I’m boarding a helicopter to help look for wildfires. The next shift I might be monitoring the highway for dangerous driving, then receive a call for crowd control if there is a bear or moose in the campground. You truly never know how each shift will go, and I think that’s what makes the job so special.

sL: What are your first impressions of Pukaskwa National Park and northern Ontario?

TV: I have spent time in northern Alberta, and look forward to this winter in Marathon. I wonder if it can match the -40o Celsius days I’ve previously experienced! Weather aside, I’m thoroughly enjoying the change of pace and the hospitality from the community. Everyone has been welcoming, and I have already been invited to join a softball team and play hockey at the local rink. The staff at Pukaskwa are incredible. Everyone is so knowledgeable and passionate about their work. Also, the scenery of northern Superior is breathtaking, to the point that I’ve run out of storage on my phone from the ridiculous amount of photos I’ve taken! 

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