Hostelling International Canada put it to an online vote and Parks Canada emerged as the winner of the association’s “Partner of the Year Award.”
“It was put out to our members to choose,” said HI-Canada CEO Alistair McLean. “They voted on the nominations and Parks Canada became the clear winner.”
The inaugural award is aimed at recognizing other groups with a “very similar mission” to that of HI-Canada, McLean explained.
“Our mission is to introduce people to our country, our geography, our peoples and cultures, which falls well in line with Parks,” he said. “It was just a natural fit.”
HI-Canada operates one hostel on the side of Whistlers Mountain in Jasper along with four other “wilderness properties” within the park at Athabasca Falls, Maligne Canyon, Beauty Creek, and Mount Edith Cavell.
“Some of our managers have been up and done training sessions with Parks staff, understanding and learning about the parks more, so they can provide that information on a day-to-day basis out at our wilderness properties,” McLean said.
In addition, Jasper National Park Supt. Greg Fenton said HI’s wilderness facilities offer excellent accommodations to go along with Parks Canada’s “New Canadians Program,” aimed at bringing recent immigrants out to national parks and encouraging them to explore and learn about the country’s natural wonders.
As another example, McLean said HI-Canada has been working with the Alberta branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association to make its wilderness properties more accessible to people with disabilities and organizing activities like a hand-bike tour down the Icefields Parkway.
“That’s a mandate for both partners,” said Fenton, “because we certainly work hard to make sure that our facilities are accessible.”
In addition to the five properties in Jasper, HI-Canada operates another seven in Banff National Park and Yoho National Park.