After a number of years quietly working away promoting a UNESCO Global Geopark for Niagara, we prepared to make a presentation to the Niagara Region – Planning and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday, April 25. In February, Geospatial Niagara convened a public meeting of sorts to share information about UNESCO Global Geoparks and how the designation would benefit Niagara. This led to several meetings. One of those meetings was with our local Indigenous Community at the Niagara Region Native Centre where we agreed on what the name for our Aspiring Geopark would be. Officially we are now the “Ohnia:kara Aspiring Geopark” – Ohnia:kara comes from the Mohawk language and translates to ‘the neck between two bodies of water’. We feel that this name reflects all of Niagara and gives the park the identity that it deserves and it honours the original inhabitants of these lands.
Prior to this presentation however, we were contacted by The St. Catharines Standard to provide some background information and this led to a front page story. The story in appears in the article “Designation could make Niagara ‘bucket-list’ destination”. From this article, a flurry of activity ensued with phone interviews with 610 CKTB on the Tim Denis Show and on the Matt Holmes Show and a follow up article after the presentation. That story appears in the article “Region committee enthusiastic about geopark”. The presentation, led by GN Board Secretary Ian Lucas and Niagara Region Native Center Cultural Resource Coordinator Phil David went very well and the councilors in attendance seemed quite engaged and receptive of the idea. The full presentation can be seen HERE and runs to approximately 47:30.
Where do we go from here? There is plenty of work to be done! First there needs to be a Board of Directors gathered and the non-profit organization needs to be created as the first step in the management of the Geopark application. We hope to make a submission to the Canadian Geoparks Committee during the 3rd quarter of 2019. In the meantime, we are seeking further opportunities to engage all Niagara communities, to educate them about the designation and what it would mean to Niagara.