Wanuskewin Names New CEO

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Darlene Brander, left, has been named the new CEO at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. With her in the photo are Elder Mary Lee and board member Candace Wasacase-Lafferty. (Wanuskewin Photo)

Darlene Brander has been named the new chief executive officer of Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, chair of the board of directors, made the announcement last week at the national historic site. Brander was appointed to the position following a comprehensive national search that attracted a strong field of candidates, said Wasacase-Lafferty.

“We had nearly 100 applicants from across Canada apply for this position, and we are thrilled to welcome Ms. Brander back to Wanuskewin,” Wasacase-Lafferty said in a news release. “She began her career here many years ago, and brings with her a wealth of experience that will positively impact the growth of this important place. 

“Darlene has demonstrated a deep commitment to Wanuskewin and the people we serve. Her reputation as a community leader, along with her strong sense of business expertise, makes us confident that she will lead Wanuskewin well into the future.”

Brander leaves her position as director of human resources for Athabasca Catering Limited Partnership, a 100 per cent Saskatchewan First Nation-owned company that offers remote-site catering services. She spent more than seven years with the company.

In addition to her track record of increasing retention of Indigenous talent and improving service delivery for clients, Brander is an active community volunteer.

She serves on the boards of the Nutrien Children’s Discovery Museum of Saskatchewan, Canadian Association of Police Governance and is chair of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners.

“As an Indigenous woman, I am honoured to be Wanuskewin’s next chief executive officer and lead an organization where the story of the land and its first people can be shared as a collective narrative,” she said in the release.

“Wanuskewin has been a gathering place for Indigenous peoples for more than 6,000 years, and it will continue to be a gathering place for the generations to come. I look forward to working with the staff, Elders and board to honour the park’s past, thrive in the present and realize the future. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve, and I am humbled to be a part of Wanuskewin Heritage Park.”

Nearly two years ago, Wanuskewin publicly launched Thundering Ahead, a capital fundraising campaign and renewal project. Brander joins the project as construction of an expanded facility is underway and will help to build the team and strategy as Wanuskewin prepares for its grand reveal in summer 2020. 

All aspects of the project are expected to be completed by then, including the building expansion, exhibit reintroduction, grassland restoration, and the first bison returned. The bid for UNESCO World Heritage designation will follow.