Occupy Winter & World Snow Day activities in Riding Mountain

Occupy Winter – Jan. 19 & 20, 2013  Occupy Winter- Moon Lake Poster

Join other Canadians and celebrate Occupy Winter – We ♥ Our Fourth Season all across Canada January 19 and 20, 2013. At Riding Mountain National Park, there will be events. PLEASE NOTE: You can CLICK on and download all of the posters on this post at larger size.

LEARN MORE: Interview with Celes Davar about Occupy Winter.

  • January 19, 12:00 Noon   all afternoon at Moon Lake in Riding Mountain National Park
  • January 19, 7:00 PM (Wasagaming picnic shelter behind the Visitor Centre): A special potluck supper and night snowshoe out to Clear Lake to experience the night sky and stars of Riding Mountain’s dark skies with Buzz Crowston. SPECIAL TREAT: Grandview singer-songwriter and Home Routes performer/host Kayla Luky will be on hand to sing a new song dedicated to Occupy Winter.Occupy Winter Evening Program poster
  • January 20, 10 AM – A snowshoe adventure at Mt. Agassiz. Meet at Agassiz Park Lodge, McCreary
  •  January 20, 11 AM – all afternoon. World Snow Day, Wasagaming (Clear Lake) at the Friends of Riding Mountain Learning Centre.

Over 4,000 Canadians have either joined or been invited to take part in Occupy Winter (Facebook Event), and more than 900 people have signed a national petition requesting Parks Canada’s CEO Alan Latourelle and the Minister of the Environment Peter Kent to please consult with Canadians and restore winter services in all national parks. Winter services (the four

th season) were eliminated from Parks Canada operations as a result of the last federal budget.

Occupy Winter is an opportunity to request Parks Canada to:

  1. Reverse the policy shift (2012) that created most national parks as three-season national parks, rather than four season.
  2. Consult Canadians about what we would like to see for winter services at each national park.
  3. Understand and recognize that winter is a distinct season and part of our national identity. We celebrate winter as community, families, and travelers. And, we do that in our national parks.

What can you do?

  • Sign the national petition to Parks Canada CEO Alan Latourelle and Environment Minister Peter Kent – SIGN THE PETITION to Restore Winter Services and Four Seasons to all national parks.
  • Ask your MP to represent a formal petition from your community to the House of Commons requesting Parks Canada to rescind the three seasons designation.

World Snow Day at WasagamingWhat are the Issues?

Radio Interview (CDKM, Dauphin) with Manitoba’s Celes Davar (who operates who explains what Occupy Winter is about and why Parks Canada’s decisions to shift national parks to three seasons affects us all. This is not good decision-making on the part of Parks Canada.

The following are important aspects of this policy shift that we are asking Parks Canada to specifically assess and take action on:

  1. Parks Canada has created a policy shift, without consultation with Canadians, that is not consistent with how Canadians use and value our national parks in winter. Recommendation: Reverse the decision to establish three season national parks. Establish a consultative process with Canadians across the country and with local stakeholders to determine how best to re-establish winter services in each national park.
  2. Canada is a country that is distinctly northern, has snow, and has a rich and long tradition of cross-country skiing, watching wildlife, snowshoeing, and various winter events and activities in our national parks throughout the winter months. Recommendation: That we use this distinct geographic and market positioning as part of how we promote the Fourth Season (winter) as a time for healthy exercise and lifestyle, winter tourism, appreciation of Canada’s nature and wildness in winter, and active community celebrations of our national parks in winter. The benefits will include new revenues, new marketing opportunities, and a sustainable educational program.
  3. Our national parks are iconic Canadian places for healthy outdoor activity including self-propelled forms of winter activity and recreation (skiing, snowshoeing, skijoring). Recommendation: Establish a core level of park staff and associated operating funds to create, deliver and market winter recreational services, education, interpretation, and winter science and environmental monitoring. Invite this core group of park staff to collaborate with local community tourism businesses and organizations to explore unique ways that each national park can partner to create and deliver these services with community partners. Empower each park manager to establish appropriate funding and staff for developing collaborative strategies with external partners.
  1. Our annual park admission fees include access to trails, facilities, and winter services that Parks Canada has been providing to us. Access to these winter services was included within the calculation of admission fees to each national park for which each park user pays. Recommendation: Continue to include the costs to provide winter services within park admission fees. Additional revenues in winter should be used to help offset budgetary deficits.
  2. It is very important to recognize that winter visitors are very different from summer park visitors. They are people who love winter sports, skiing, snowshoeing, or wildlife viewing. They are some of the strongest supporters of our national parks, and include urban enthusiasts, as well as many residents from surrounding communities next to national parks who frequent winter trails. They advocate for each national park. Winter visitors come in smaller numbers and they come for very different experiences than summer visitors. Recommendation: Because winter offers Parks Canada a different opportunity to market winter as a distinct season, collect revenues, acknowledge local supporters and advocates, and partner with local tourism businesses to offer “the quintessential winter experience in Canada”, include winter as a distinct season of programming and activities for all national parks.

Response requested:

We ask that the CEO for Parks Canada Alan Latourelle, each national park Superintendent, and the Minister of Environment respond to the above petition and the five actions we have identified in consultation with Canadians. We ask that this consultation and revised decision-making be conducted before June 1, 2013, and that Parks Canada communicate their decisions publicly.

Where The Fields End And The Forest Begins

The first thing I think about Riding Mountain is the ability to connect with nature, wildlife, and authentic Manitoba hospitality.  We were not disappointed.

We arrived after a long flight and coach ride through the wide open prairie spaces, and a climb over the mountain ridge to enter the forests of Riding Mountain National Park.  Greeted by friendly staff at the rustic Elkhorn Resort, we entered a great Canadian lodge nestled in the forests and  settled into our comfortable accommodations. We were wowed by a large fireplace. Our first night we enjoyed a relaxing dinner in front of a roaring fireplace of Manitoba Pickerel , a delicious white fish with a sinful mystery sauce.  The outdoor hot tub was the perfect ending for a long day …

Snowshoeing Riding Mountain National Park

We awoke to a beautiful warm sunny winter day with a hearty breakfast before leaving for our snow shoe adventure at Moon Lake.

  • Sheer beauty.
  • Tranquility.
  • Stimulated all senses.
  • The sounds of the wind blowing through the aspens.
  • The white of the snow. Untouched, except for animal tracks.

Usually snow is an annoyance, a make-work project.  Today, we embraced the snow and  connected to nature.  Following a stream naturally funneled us to our discovery of Dale, a Parks Canada employee, in a Quinzee hut while observing moose tracks and other wildlife.  We shared  a Manitoba  blend of tea.

We learned new technologies used by Parks Canada to capture wildlife activities as they occur in Riding Mountain including a motion-sensor camera. Parks Canada staff have a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm which they are happy to share.  Another “creature” discovered on our journey was Dean Gunnarson, World Famous Escape  Artist , now living in Riding Mountain.

A cross-country ski excursion allowed us to discover more of the Park for 15 minutes, before someone injured themselves. The Elkhorn hot tub and a Fort Garry Pale Ale was the perfect medicine to ease the pain of body and pride.

Riding Mountain is a place where we could reconnect with nature and replenish our soul. We left  of our fields of everyday life and monotony and embraced the rejuvenation of the forest.

Blog post by Calvin D’Entremont and Maegan Power-Noble,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010

Lost in the Wilderness!!!

Snowshoeing Moon Lake

Help!!!  We arrived in “total desolation” not knowing what to expect.  It was a “barren wasteland”.  The waiver we signed said “not responsible for death caused by wild animals and parasites”.  Oh-oh! They said this was going to be fun.  They said we were going to learn to partner, to build relationships, and to experience the “T” (tourism) word in a funky value-added format. This was going to be new, fun, interactive, exciting and ultimately beneficial to the bottom line. Ok…sure..whatever…  We had our doubts initially…but now we’re believers!!

The next day was looking up…a bit, at least.  Breakfast was great…generally a good sign, so all was not lost.  Our group was obviously in the same frame of mind.  They didn’t know what to expect either.  However, after a little tongue-wagging we soon learned that their trepidations and expectations were quite similar to our own.

Earth Rhythms was phenomenal!!  The experiential outings were enlightening.  We were drawn to the local customs and traditions.  We were absorbed in the uniqueness of a distinct culture and way of life, feeling as if we belonged to it ourselves and that it had always been our own.  That’s the power of experience and it’s something that everyone can benefit from.  We never dreamed we would dance a traditional Ukrainian jig that looked so amazing in its natural state…until it was utterly destroyed by a couple of rookie bluenosers.  Fortunately for us, we weren’t alone.  The others in our group were as equally “talented” and forgiving.  We felt much better!

It all boils down to this…no matter who you are, or where you go, everyone is the same.  We’re all interdependent and herein lies our strength as human beings.  Together, we can tap into a vast supply of resources that, with a little ingenuity, can benefit one and all.  Together, we can experience, learn, adapt, grow, and profit from each other’s experiences, perceptions and opinions.

We’ve learned to look in our own backyards for the plethora of valuable resources that go un-utilized every day.  These do exist and they’re there for the taking, but sometimes they aren’t revealed until another point of view is expressed.  The full value of those hidden treasures then manifest in a flash of insight, and the hidden economic potential that lies just under our noses is finally revealed.

Our backyards, like the Manitoba “wilderness” may at times seem barren, cold and forbidding, but they can also be warm and inviting.  A cozy bonfire, starting with a tiny glowing ember of warmth – friendship, camaraderie, revelation, and knowledge – eventually grows into a fiery, consuming blaze.  That’s the power of “experiencing” over “observing”.  That’s the power of networking, building solid relationships and lasting partnerships. That’s the power of Best Practices Missions in Manitoba.

Thank you Earth Rhythms!

Blog post by Gem Johnson & Dave Hovey,

Participants on the Nova Scotia Best Practices Mission to Manitoba, February 2010