The Indigenous Peoples Experience is a pinnacle of the three-year, $165-million renovation to Fort Edmonton Park, which will see its gates swing wide to the public July 1.
“We are very proud of the new interactive Indigenous Peoples Experience that explores life through First Nations and Métis peoples’ histories, cultures, experiences and perspectives. We are grateful to the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta, Elders, artisans and community members who helped us achieve this one-of-a-kind experience for visitors across the world,” Darren Dalgleish, president and CEO of the Fort Edmonton Management Company, said in a statement Monday as the park opened to media for a sneak peek.
“The Indigenous Peoples Experience is truly an extraordinary facility. It symbolically captures the vibrant history and culture of our Treaty First Nations. We honour and appreciate the guidance of the Elders Advisory Council, some of whom are no longer with us. This is a true legacy project that was the first of its kind as everything began with ceremony. We are proud to have been a part of the creation of this facility. It is a wonderful model of what can be accomplished when we all work together. I can’t wait for the public to see it. They will certainly be amazed,” added Treaty Six Grand Chief Vernon Watchmaker.
Other park attractions include a larger Ferris wheel at the 1920s-style midway, an outdoor maze, the cabinet of curios exhibit and an expanded game selection.
Of course, a trip to the park also means hitching a ride on the 102-year-old Baldwin steam train, which has also been refurbished.
Park utilities for power, gas, water, sewer and communications have also been revamped and there is a new guardhouse, an extension of the freight shed, and new streetcar tracks and catenary lines.
All levels of government and the Fort Edmonton Foundation contributed to the cost. Fort Edmonton Park began as a Centennial project in 1967.