Parks Leaders from Across Canada Make History

Bill Kilburn, Program Manager for the Back to Nature Network, was invited to attend the Canadian Parks Summit as an advocate for the collective efforts of the B2N Network to reconnect children and youth with nature.


Canmore, Alberta

(04/20/2016) As the first gathering of its kind, the Canadian Parks Summit mobilized leaders from across the country to pioneer a collaborative vision for Canada’s parks system, from local community open spaces to national parks.

The event, held from April 11 to 14 in Canmore, Alberta, hosted over 190 decision-makers in the sector, including senior parks managers, academics, NGOs, indigenous leaders, and representatives from all levels of government. The summit was co-chaired by the Canadian Parks Council and Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, who collaborated with a country-wide National Advisory Committee including delegates from 24 organizations.

Using a “Parks for All” workbook and four commissioned papers as background, attendees participated in workshops, bringing their diverse views to one table. The discussion produced 175 pages of input on the future of our parks system.

The group emphasized that “Parks for All” is meant in the broadest context, with parks including everything from open spaces to trails to national parks, and “all” meaning all forms of life, including people, ecosystems and all Canadian species.

“Parks for All is an invitation and a vision to ensure that all Canadians, now and for generations to come, have the opportunity to love and experience to the fullest all that nature has to offer. With our collective commitment and passion, we will achieve this vision,” said Dawn Carr, co-chair of the Canadian Parks Summit.

The leaders outlined a plan to create more parks and manage them more efficiently. The group rallied around the idea to stop seeing parks as only physical places, and instead focus on the benefits that parks offer to all Canadians.

The summit included addresses by 14 speakers, as well as by Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna and by MLA Cameron Westhead, who spoke on behalf of Alberta Environment Minister, Shannon Phillips. Other notable guests included Mayor John Borrowman of Canmore and Stoney Nakoda elder, Melvin Beaver.

“The 2016 Canadian Parks Summit has highlighted a tremendous opportunity for the Canadian Parks sector. From local communities to national parks, we can seize this chance to collaborate with all Canadians, particularly Indigenous Nations, to enhance Canada’s systems of parks from coast to coast to coast,” said Murray Kopp, co-chair of the Canadian Parks Summit.

Now, the delegates’ input will be condensed into a single document and opened to the general public to read and offer their comments.

Visit in the coming weeks to access the document and learn more about the outcomes of the Canadian Parks Summit.

The momentum from this exciting event will be carried forward into a 2017 Pan-Canadian Parks Conference in Banff, centered on the key ideas and themes from the summit, with registration open to all. Visit to learn more.


The Back to Nature Network is a diverse and growing group of organizations uniting to build capacity to connect children, youth and families with nature in ongoing and meaningful ways. The network grew from the international children and nature movement that is focused on addressing ‘nature-deficit’ disorder, a term spawned by Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder. We envision an Ontario where everyone has the opportunity to experience nature every day. For the latest news on our Network, please visit Follow us on Twitter (@BacktoNatureNet).

Funding for the Back to Nature Network is provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) through a collaborative partnership between Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO), and Ontario Nature.

For media enquiries or to arrange an interview:

Maria Legault, Communications Coordinator
Back to Nature Network
905-527-1158 x. 591 | |
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