Inaugural gala in PANP to raise funds for new Indigenous programming

A gala fundraiser is being held at Terrace Gardens. Photo courtesy Waskesiu Foundation.

A top chef and a top comic are coming to Waskesiu this weekend to help Friends of the Park raise money for new cultural programming.

Friends of the Park and Kisik enterprises are putting on the first Action for Youth Gala in Waskesiu on August 4 to kick-start fundraising for projects they hope to have in place by next year.

The event will feature modern Indigenous cuisine by Top Chef Canada finalist Chef Rich Francis of Red Chef Revival, who is an Indigenous chef himself.

He’ll be tailoring a meal alongside Chef Alex Crowe, a relative of Anehareo, Grey Owl’s wife.

Entertainment will be provided by Indigenous comedian Don Burnstick, who has been performing comedy for over 30 years.

“This event will provide audiences and sponsors the opportunity to enhance engagement and bridge opportunities to network while investing in a cause that ties into national priorities and community building,” a press release said.

“Proceeds from the gala will support youth programming in the park and target youth from neighbouring communities.”

Chef Francis has been on the Canada 150 tour and recently did some work with National Geographic. He was a finalist on season 4 of Top Chef Canada.

Don Burnstick is a well-known comic who is always on the road.

“We’re lucky to be able to squeeze him into this show,” said Ernie Scoles of Friends of the Park.

“We’re lucky to have Rich Francis coming to cook for us.”

Scoles said his organization wants to introduce Indigenous culture, and that theme permeates the gala evening. The menu will feature bison and pickerel, and Burnstick’s comedy follows Indigenous themes.

“We’re just trying to keep it Indigenous,” Scoles said.

“We’re trying to bring Indigenous back into Prince Albert National Park.”

One of the goals of Friends of the Park is to bring summer-long Indigenous programming to the national park next year with culture and language, targeted at Indigenous and non-Indigenous guests alike. Down the road, they’d also like to set up a cultural centre.

“Parks Canada is involved, they’re listening and they’re interested in what they’re hearing already,” he said.

“We’re going to start small. We want to introduce First Nations and non-First Nations to the last 600 years of culture where Prince Albert National Park is now. Parks Canada has been really receptive. They’ve been helpful. It’s part of their mandate. We’ve updated our bylaws to bring more Indigenous, as well as other multicultural aspects, into the park.”

The gala is set for 5 p.m. on August 4 at Terrace Gardens. Tickets are $150 per person or $1,050 for a table of eight. The dinner will be followed by a silent and live auction, with a Guy Lafleur and a Wayne Gretzky autographed jersey on the block.

Tickets are available at SHOWPASS. For more information or to get involved, call 306-491-5270.