It’s becoming more and more apparent that organizations and services need to take a regional perspective to remain viable and effective. The Turtle Mountain-Souris Plains Heritage Association recognizes that fact and they devoted time for that very discussion at their annual Assembly and AGM on March 22 in Deloraine.
The morning session was dedicated to area museums and how best to support their futures. See separate article.
The afternoon included discussions and presentations from the Pierson Heritage Association, The International Peace Garden and Conservation Districts.
Dean Brooker, manager of the West Souris River Conservation District (WSRCD) gave a report. He said the WSRCD has leased Cherry Point since 2013 – 14 acres owned by the province. “It is a historic site for hunter-gatherers, and was a big-time buffalo-kill site. You can often find buffalo skulls in the river bank. There is a variety of wildlife in the area including wolf, elk and moose. We would like to make it into a park with a nature walk and picnic tables. In another project idea, we are interested in rejuvenating the Wayside Park. I have spoken with Canpawakpa band chief who is in agreement, but there is no guarantee we will receive the necessary funding.”
Brooker said in another project the WSRCD has formed a strong partnership with the Canpawakpa Dakota First Nations – in which a ½ mile shelterbelt will be planted and trees at the cemetery. As well there are talks about a fruit orchard that would include species that their ancestors would have used.
“About five years ago our funding was cut 15% so we have to go after external funding pretty hard. Fortunately, we have received significant funding from Tundra Oil & Gas, which we use for such projects as education — the annual Land and Water Day is especially well received said Brooker.
As of January 1, 2020, the Conservation Districts in Manitoba will be undergoing a name change and will be called Watershed Districts seeing the West Souris River Conservation District and part of the Turtle Mountain Conservation District (East Souris River Watershed) merge to form the Souris River Watershed District which will encompass an area from Kola to Boissevain to Saskatchewan border to U.S. border – 8,000 sq. km. They will utilize the same staff and two offices. Turtle Mountain CD will be split. “There may be some benefits when applying for funding as the Souris River Watershed District will encompass nine municipalities,” concluded Brooker.
Yasemin Keeler, manager of Turtle Mountain Conservation District was also present to give a report. Some of their properties managed include the Metigoshe Natural Area where a dock is set up each year, maintain the lookout tower and trail system. There is a Metis gravesite near the property and would be an opportunity to partner with the heritage association and tell the story of the area. TMCD maintains Newcomb’s Hollow (historic site) and pastureland. There is also a geocache on the property which are very popular with youth and good for engaging youth – especially 4-H clubs. “Another story to tell could be the disappearance of road allowances — tell their history, the benefits they provide for society, wildlife, pollinator habitat, and how they act as conservation corridors. To put them back to functional corridors, it is a hard sell. We used to have a Conservation Corridor Program but we see many are getting ripped out.”
“There is definitely a story to tell at Chain Lakes as well. In the past educational tours were very popular,” concluded Keeler.
The International Peace Garden (IPG) has been in existence for 86 years (1932-2019) and through the years there have been many changes and additions. Tim Chapman, CEO says IPG’s longest partnership has been with the camps. “I often find people talking about their camp experience years later.” Some of the iconic images have been the floral clock, Eric Willis Pavillion, Peace Chapel, floral flags, Bell Tower, Masonic Auditorium, Sunken Garden, Game Warden Museum, 9/11 Memorial, Conservatory and Promise of Peace sculpture (2016). One goal is how to interpret the plants in the conservatory — how can the plants could be used to advocate peace with cultures around the world – through shared resources, etc.
“Another goal is to make the garden a one-of-a-kind all season destination. There needs to be more to do to engage the youth. We can partner more with schools. The Garden has a global reach but it must be solidified at home first. We can showcase history beyond Manitoba and North Dakota. The whole idea of the IPG is cooperation.”
What about a new Peace Tower? The original had structural issues and had to come down. “The cost of a new tower is prohibitive at $30 million. We need to focus on fixing what we do have and offering affordable events. There are many partnership opportunities,” concluded Chapman.