Wanuskewin Heritage Park sits above Opimihaw Creek and the South Saskatchewan River near Saskatoon. It is a window into a part of Canada’s history that remains largely undiscovered, and a link to our past unlike any other National Historic Site in Canada. Wanuskewin shows us that there exists evidence of ancient peoples and many different aspects of habitation, hunting and gathering, and spirituality all in one place.
Being a resident of Saskatchewan I had to check out Wanuskewin for myself and talk with the many people who manage everyday operations there. One individual that stood out for me was Chris Standing.
Standing is the Visitor Services Manager at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. He has deep ties to the land for his grandfather, Elder Cy Standing, was a member of the original team that brought the dream of Wanuskewin to fruition.
His passion shows through each day by greeting guests and sharing his personal stories to enhance the visitor experience.
“I got started at Wanuskewin in dance performances and presentations.”
Some of the everyday activities Chris does includes maintaining connections through social media, extending personal invitations to events and celebrations, and developing relationships with repeat visitors to the park. He also designs and facilitates the majority of cultural programs, while developing festival and event concepts.
“Before Wanuskewin I worked as a youth worker in a group home and youth centre. I also had summer student positions at Dakota Dunes Casino, as well as I produced live music concerts for Independent Dog Face, an entertainment promotion company.”
When I asked Chris what he loved most about working at Wanuskewin he mentioned that he loves the trails all over the land and walking them. He mentioned there are plans to soon have bison roaming the land which will be an extra treat for the trail walks.
“One of the best moments so far working at Wanuskewin has to be winning the 2017 Tourism Saskatchewan Employee of the year award.”
Chris reflects back to 2017 when he was invited to the Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala night. This night is meant to acknowledge quality in marketing, service, business practices, human resource development and other areas. He received the Tourism Employee of the Year award for his outstanding performance.
I asked Standing what advice he might have to others looking to follow in his footsteps and be as successful as him, “ You have to work hard for what you want to do. Everyday I do what I love and that should be your goal too.”
“What I love about living and working in Saskatchewan is my Dakota and Plains Cree communities who gave me the knowledge I have today. I will continue to learn my culture and history to share that with anyone that comes to visit Wanuskewin.”