Awen’ Gathering Place wins 2020 Parks and Recreation Ontario Provincial Award

February 26, 2020
Parks, Recreation, & Culture
Awen Gathering Place

The Town of Collingwood is the recipient of the 2020 Parks and Recreation Ontario Award of Excellence for Park Facility Design (population under 100,000) for the Awen’ Gathering Place. Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) announced the winners of the 2020 PRO Awards on Tuesday, February 11. These provincial awards recognize and honour the outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations that have enhanced the quality of life for Ontario's citizens. The awards will be presented on March 26, 2020 at the 25th Anniversary PRO Educational Forum and Trade Show at the Blue Mountain Conference Centre, Town of the Blue Mountains.

“PRO is proud to recognize innovation in parks and recreation through these awards,” says PRO Chair Jan Wilson. “This year’s recipients have demonstrated a true commitment advancing our sector through groundbreaking programming and planning. From skate parks to walking programs, they all demonstrate why parks and recreation are essential for the health and well-being of our citizens and our communities.” 

Mayor Brian Saunderson remarks, “Collingwood is blessed with incredible natural amenities, from our beautiful parks to our historic waterfront, and we are extremely proud of our vibrant cultural events, thriving arts scene, and four-season recreational opportunities. The Awen’ Gathering Place in Harbourview Park is a celebration of our Indigenous heritage and will be an ongoing theme for the next phase which is a water play space. We are pleased and honoured that Parks and Recreation Ontario is recognizing this amazing heritage legacy feature in our community.”

Dean Collver, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture adds, “The Town Staff and entire team that has been involved in the design, construction, and program development at the Awen’ Gathering Place are very pleased and proud of this recognition. We would like to express appreciation to Council and the Community for continuing to support progressive initiatives like this.”

The Awen’ Gathering Place is a space of sharing, learning, teaching, ceremony, celebration, and contemplation created by the Town of Collingwood to advance recognition of the past and present Indigenous Peoples and their heritage legacy in Collingwood and the surrounding area. Awen’ is a Wendat word for “water”.

The concept for the Awen’ Gathering Place is based on the teachings of the renowned educator, artist, and poet Dr. Duke Redbird of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation. The design links the seven grandfather teachings to the seven layers of the food forest. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are an ancient Anishinaabe/Midewiwin teaching on the ethics of proper behaviour and conduct or ‘the good way of life’.

These teachings are linked to the lands that were for thousands of years the source of life for the Anishinaabeg peoples who gathered foods, medicines and materials from the forest in the area that is now Collingwood.

Learn more about the Awen’ Gathering Place: 

About Parks and Recreation Ontario
Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO) is a non-profit association that advances the health, social and environmental benefits of quality recreation and parks through advocacy, education and quality standards. PRO has over 6,500 members — including professionals, volunteers, educators, students, interested citizens, elected officials and commercial representatives — who provide services to more than 85% of Ontarians in close to 200 municipalities across the province. For more 25 years, PRO has been the leading voice for recreation and parks, working collaboratively with stakeholders and government to promote policy for healthy, active communities.