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National Urban Park Hub established at UWindsor


The process to create the Ojibway National Urban Park is many years in the making and it’s still a few years away.

Researchers at the University of Windsor are creating a hub help develop a national urban park template for others to follow.

“The Windsor hub is meant to be a place where we can roll up our sleeves and find solutions,” said Catherine Febria, a freshwater restoration ecologist and one of the research leads at the hub.

Parks Canada kicked in $1.2 million to match funding from the University of Windsor to establish the first National Urban Park Hub.

"The program will be grounded in science, Indigenous knowledge, and local perspectives. Research and collaboration with academic partners, such as the new University of Windsor National Urban Park Hub, will enable us to blend this knowledge and bring people together,” said Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change and minister responsible for Parks Canada.

Ojibway National Urban Park is only the second of its kind in all of Canada but is part of a broader federal push to develop 26 in total across the country.

“We are finding the local solution within this national program,” said Anneke Smit of the University of Windsor Law Centre for Cities, also serving as a research lead at the hub. “And again, then taking the lessons learned that are that are applicable, and bringing those back to the national level.”

Over the next two years, the innovative hub for research and engagement will do just that — with a focus on conserving nature, connecting people with nature, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Taking the lead on that aspect will be Faculty of Science Indigenous knowledge keeper Clint Jacobs, whose work focuses on integrative biology.

“His role will be to help ensure that we can create a space or hold a space where we can talk about indigenous-led stewardship and inclusion of ceremony and culture,” said Febria, whose research will focus on how to protect, restore and be stewards for the natural waterways and ecosystem within the park.

Anneke Smit will be tasked with determining how a national urban park fits into the city.

“How do I to get to the park? What kind of development happens or doesn't happen around the park? We're a border community so how do we connect what's happening at the park across the border to make sure that we really leverage this investment and how amazing it is,” said Smit.

But the research team emphasizes this must be a community effort and wants engagement to be a top priority.

“It's going to take the whole all of community to participate in what the National Park in Windsor will look like,” said Febria. “And I think the intention is to really have a collaborative spirit where people can come together and have these hard discussions.” Top Stories

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