Parks Canada

Parks Canada

May 06, 2011 11:38 ET

Harper Government Connecting Young Canadians to Canada's Nature and History

Grade 8 Students to Once Again Receive Free Passes to Canada's Beloved Places

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 6, 2011) - The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, along with Mr. Alan Latourelle, Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, today announced that Canadian students in Grade 8 will once again receive free passes to Canada's beloved places.

"Canada's future lies in the hands of its young people, and today, I'm proud to hand Grade 8 students across the country an entry key to Canada's most treasured natural and historic areas," said Minister Kent. "Throughout this centennial year for Parks Canada, young Canadians will have many opportunities to develop strong and meaningful connections to the very essence of Canada."

In collaboration with Nature Canada and The Historica-Dominion Institute, the Government of Canada is continuing the My Parks Pass initiative, which grants Grade 8 / Secondary 2 students across Canada free access for one full year to any of Parks Canada's 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas. Also, Grade 8 / Secondary 2 class visits will continue to enter free of charge at all these parks and sites. As well, through Canopy Planet Society, each of these students school will receive a copy of the Canada's National Parks: A Celebration book.

In addition to today's announcement, Minister Kent and Mr. Latourelle were pleased to announce an exciting contest in connection with VIA Rail Canada, entitled Canada's Ultimate Family Adventure. The Grand Prize Winner will get a trip for four by rail to Jasper National Park for an 'adventure of a lifetime'.

Another exciting program to help connect young Canadians and their families to Canada's treasured places is Operation Unplugged. In collaboration with GlassBox media, HLP + Partners and VIA Rail Canada, Parks Canada is launching this broadcast and web venture that will provide opportunities for eight urban young people to trade their "techno-dependent" lifestyles for a summer "unplugged" in Canada's national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas where they will compete in challenges under the guidance of a host and Parks Canada staff.

"Never before has Parks Canada offered so many imaginative and innovative programs aimed at young Canadians than in this, our Centennial year," concluded Mr. Latourelle, Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada. "I'm very excited about what this year will bring and look forward to building lasting relationships between these students and Canada's treasured places."

As part of its year-long Centennial Celebrations, Parks Canada has planned a signature centennial launch event on May 21st to bring the "Parks Canada Experience" to downtown Toronto, with activities between various downtown sites, including Union Station, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, CN Tower and Rogers Centre.

Established in 1911 as the Dominion Parks Branch, Parks Canada was the world's first national park and national historic site service and ever since has been a world leader in protecting and presenting treasured natural and historic places.

Parks Canada works to ensure that Canada's natural and historic treasures are protected and presented for the enjoyment, education and benefit of all Canadians, today and in the future, offering them the opportunity for personal moments of inspiring discovery.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at under Media Room.


Parks Canada Centennial Celebration on May 21 in Toronto

Toronto Celebration

As part of its year-long Centennial Celebrations, Parks Canada has planned a signature centennial launch event on May 21st to bring the "Parks Canada Experience" to downtown Toronto, with activities between various downtown sites, including Union Station, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, CN Tower and Rogers Centre.

An all day outdoor street fest and concert will showcase Parks Canada's many treasures from across the country. Mascots, face painting heritage presentations, costumed interpretation, fife and drums, aboriginal dancing, and period games are just a few of the exciting offerings that will fill the day. Various interactive and engaging zones such as kids zones, theatrical zones, a visitor centre, photo zone and critters corner will ensure the event is interactive and fun for everyone.

A late afternoon outdoor concert featuring Mudmen, Malajube, Sweet Thing, and Apostle of Hustle on the main stage will end the outdoor festivities and provide an exciting finale.

In conjunction with the outdoor event and in collaboration with the Rogers Centre and Toronto Blue Jays, the May 21st 1:00 pm baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros will be themed the Parks Canada Centennial game and will feature centennial festivities throughout the game, culminating with an overnight camp out in Canada's largest indoor park, the Rogers Centre. The Jays and Parks Canada Team will work together to ensure the camp out is a unique and memorable experience by providing a combination of experiences such as learn to camp sessions, digital scavenger hunt, slack lines, mountain biking, and various other family friendly activities.

The ultimate Parks Canada Centennial Family Experience will be given away to one lucky winner during the baseball game inside the Rogers Centre by Parks Canada, consisting of a 7 day family getaway, including return airfare from Toronto to Calgary for 4 by Air Canada and a 7 night accommodation package by Fairmont which includes premier properties, Fairmont Palliser-Downtown Calgary, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont-Chateau Lake Louis, and Fairmont-Jasper Park Lodge.


Saturday May 21st11am – 7pm Outdoor Street Fest on CN Tower grounds off of Bremner Road

Street Fest zones will include a Parks Canada Visitor Centre, Photo Zone, Kids Zone, Critters Corner, Amphitheatre, Roving and Static Interpretation such as Anne of Green Gables, Vikings, and Main Stage.

There will be a giant Canada Maple Leaf hot air balloon inflation in Olympic Park at 2:30pm as the back drop to main stage.

Main Stage acts will begin at 4:30pm and include Mudmen, Malajube, Sweet Thing, and Apostle of Hustle as the headliner. The main stage will be at the Tower East Park on Bremner Road.


The Toronto Blue Jays will hold a campout on May 21st, and are proud to do so in conjunction with Parks Canada as part of Parks Canada's Centennial Celebration.

Following the game between the Blue Jays and Houston Astros, registrants will be able to campout overnight on the Rogers Centre turf. The camp out will feature a Blue Jays autograph session, on field activities, light dinner Saturday night, sleepover goodie bag, followed by breakfast on Sunday morning. All campers can find details and register now at Cost of the event is $100 per person and includes a ticket to the Saturday game in the 100 Outfield Level.


  • 11am doors to Rogers Centre open and Parks Canada activities begin with the Toronto Blue Jays game starting at 1 pm and ending around 4pm. Parks Canada Centennial activities inside the Rogers Centre throughout the game and on all levels at the kids zones, followed by an evening camp out
  • 7 pm to 9 pm is the camp out which includes learn to camp sessions, games, storytelling hosted by the Jays and Parks Canada teams
  • 9 pm to 10:30 pm bedtime movie


Parks Canada Centennial Youth Initiatives

My Parks Pass

This is the second year that Parks Canada, working in collaboration with the Historica-Dominion Institute and Nature Canada, offers the "My Parks Pass" Program.

My Parks Pass is a Canada-wide program that provides all Grade 8 / Secondary 2 students free access (for one year) to any national park, national historic site or national marine conservation area administered by Parks Canada. Additionally, all Grade 8 / Secondary 2 classrooms, including split classes, will receive free admission to these parks and sites as part of a classroom field trip, organized by the school.

The My Parks Pass program includes the following components:

  • A physical My Parks Pass distributed annually in April to over 390,000 grade 8 / Secondary 2 students along with a student kit that outlines the many exciting opportunities to experience parks and sites. An entry fee exemption for grade 8 / Secondary 2 classes entering as part of a school sanctioned visit.
  • Teachers will receive the passes, an explanatory letter and a promotional poster this April. In September, a package designed for teachers will be distributed to over 17,000 classrooms across the country.
  • A My Parks Pass program website provides a program overview, a 60-second promotional video, and offers related information and links to Parks Canada and its partners, at
  • Every pass has a unique VIP code that will allow students to enter contests on to win great prizes. These contests aim at engaging youth in the program as soon as they receive their pass. The goal of this contest is to entice active participation opportunities for students who visit Parks Canada locations as well as those that do not. Teachers (and parents) will find resources on the website such as pre and post visit information to support potential class visits.
  • The My Parks Pass can also be used to purchase a Parks Canada Family/Group Discovery Pass at a discounted price.

"Experiencing nature first-hand in Canada's parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas will promote healthy, active lifestyles and cultivate enjoyment of and respect for nature among our youth," said Ian Davidson, Executive Director, Nature Canada. "Nature Canada continues to be a proud partner in this program."

"The wealth of Canada is its wilderness and its history," says Jeremy Diamond, Director at The Historica-Dominion Institute. "We hope the My Parks Pass program is only the beginning of a lifelong relationship with Canada's treasures."

Canada's National Parks: A Celebration book to all school libraries

Canada's National Parks: A Celebration is a beautiful commemorative book marking the 125th anniversary of national parks in Canada. The large format 256-page hardcover showcases outstanding landscape photography of each of Canada's national parks – all 42 of them.

This unique book is a bright reflection of Canada's most treasured places. By browsing this book, young Canadians will be able to discover the magnificence of Canada's national parks; others will re-live moments of awe and inspiration they experienced during their stays.

Canada's National Parks: A Celebration marks the 125th anniversary of national parks in Canada and the 2011 centennial of Parks Canada as the world's first national parks service.

This project also represents a unique partnership between Parks Canada and the environmental NGO Canopy who teamed together to produce this superb example of environmentally responsible publishing featuring environmentally-friendly materials and techniques, including papers that are 100% free of fibre from endangered forests.

"Canopy is very excited to be able to share this exquisite book with schools across this country. This book is printed to the highest environmental standards and distribution logistics were calculated to minimize transport impacts," said Canopy Executive Director Nicole Rycroft. "We hope that this book inspires our future generations to appreciate our natural resources and to continue working to conserve more of this magnificent land¹s ecological richness."

Canada's Ultimate Family Adventure

One lucky family will experience the summer vacation of a lifetime on an all-expenses-paid, round-trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta. Parks Canada will get the family to a VIA Rail station where they will then travel in luxury aboard a train through the breathtaking scenery of Canada's spectacular Rocky Mountains. The family will get to learn to camp in the park as they go on four unique, professionally guided adventures and discover the endless fun of Canada's national parks!

Vacation Includes

  • Round Trip rail fare provided by Via Rail
  • Cottage tent accommodations, for 3 nights in Jasper National Park of Canada, (Learn to camp program included).
  • 1 night accommodation at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
  • 4 professionally guided adventures in the park (Ice Explorer tour on the Athabasca Glacier, Miette Hot Springs, Palisades Stewardship Education Center & white water rafting)
  • One free family Discovery Pass to continue experiencing additional Parks Canada sites.
  • $1500 spending money
  • Endless fun and opportunity to have the family vacation of a life time.

Operation Unplugged

An ever-growing segment of Canadians has a new obsession: technology. Whether their obsession is with a BlackBerry, Facebook, Xbox, YouTube, Twitter, TMZ or just constantly texting, Canadians young and old are spending more and more time "Plugged In". Operation Unplugged is a new documentary reality series and on-line experience that takes eight of these self-proclaimed techno-dependant Canadians and unplugs them. Global adventurer Alan Bishop will guide eight participants on a coast to coast adventure through Canada's National Parks and National Historic Sites where they will participate in site based challenges to determine who is worthy of becoming Parks Canada's Ambassador!

Operation Unplugged is a collaboration between Parks Canada, HLP+Partners, GlassBox Media and VIA Rail.

"We couldn't ask for better partners than HLP and Parks Canada. They bring both vision and beauty to the project. Operation Unplugged will deliver adventure and excitement to our Travel and Escape audience," said Marcia Martin, SVP Creative Content, Commissioned & In-House Programming at GlassBox Media.

"HLP+Partners are thrilled to be working with Parks Canada and GlassBox Media to produce this ground breaking series that reveals the personal journey of 8 Canadians in an entertaining, challenge-based format," said Henry Less, Partner, HLP+Partners.

"As Canada's national passenger rail service, our transcontinental network connects over 450 communities from coast to coast, including numerous national parks and national historic sites," said Marc Laliberté, VIA's president and CEO. "We are proud to partner with Parks Canada in these exciting initiatives that will allow young Canadians to get to know their country, its places and people better. In a way, they will be completing a time-honoured tradition common to generations of Canadians since the country was founded, seeing Canada up close, by train. All of us at VIA wish them good luck and bon voyage."

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