By Scott Hayes
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Unanticipated construction issues have forced a delay on work resuming for the Jasper Indigenous Exhibit.
A statement from Parks Canada emailed to The Fitzhugh referred to “quality-related concerns.”
“Parks Canada is exploring various options to address the concerns and to ensure that the exhibit is finished to an acceptable level of quality,” the statement reads.
The exhibit area can be found on the northern section of Athabasca Park, the green space in front of the Jasper Information Centre that is also known as “The Patch.” It has been fenced off since the project was announced in late 2021.
The exhibit was originally scheduled to open at the end of September 2022, but its delay was announced mid-July last year.
From the Connaught (east) side of the construction area, there are some visible issues. One corner of the fencing has been bent out, and the top of one of the concrete fixtures appears to have experienced a setting error. A possible corrective measure has left an inconsistent end result.
For more than a decade, Parks Canada has been working with representatives from more than 20 Indigenous partner communities on the concept and design of this exhibit. The project is meant to recognize those communities and to help broaden the public’s understanding of Indigenous peoples and their connection to this land.
In 1907, First Nations and Metis peoples were forcibly removed from their homes with the creation of the Jasper Park Forest Reserve, the precursor to Jasper National Park.
“Parks Canada and Indigenous partners are working together with the goal of cultivating a better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ perspectives, cultures and traditions. The cultures and identities of Indigenous peoples are rooted in the land, and honouring connections to place is an important element for actions and outcomes related to reconciliation,” the statement continued.
“As part of Parks Canada’s commitment to honouring these connections and in partnership with members of the Jasper Indigenous Forum, the Jasper Indigenous Exhibit will create a space for Indigenous communities to share their connections with these lands through artwork and interpretive panels of their own design/following their own vision.”
The construction team is now working to resolve the issue and get construction on the project back underway.
“As with any infrastructure project, completion is reliant on coordination of many aspects,” the release reads.
The opening ceremony for the exhibit is still being planned for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2023.
Scott Hayes is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the JASPER FITZHUGH. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.