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Han Wi Moon Dinner

A transformative culinary experience at Wanuskewin Heritage Park


Han Wi Moon Dinner at Wanuskewin Heritage Park - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

Right in the centre of Canada, just five kilometres north of Saskatchewan’s city of Saskatoon is Wanuskewin Heritage Park, beautifully located along the South Saskatchewan River on Treaty Six Territory and Homeland of the Métis. It has been a gathering place for Indigenous peoples of the Northern Plains for over 6,400 years. They came to Opimihaw Creek to hunt bison, gather plants and celebrate ceremonies. Today, visitors from near and far visit the place to learn more about their Indigenous culture.


Wanuskewin Heritage Park - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

Every summer, guests can experience a special evening at one of the park’s popular Han Wi Moon Dinners, a transformative culinary experience celebrating the Northern Plains and its people, landscape, ingredients and culture. In showcasing performing arts, visual arts and culinary arts all in one evening, this unique event engages all senses and connects to the spirit of the Opimihaw Valley.


Upon arrival, guests are welcomed to the park through a smudge ceremony, preparing their mind, body and soul for the evening, guided by host Honey Constant Inglis. Honey is a master level archaeologist from Sturgeon Lake First Nation and leads guests on a walking tour of the valley sharing stories of culture, heritage and the science of the land.


Smudge Ceremony - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

This welcome is followed by a four-course meal designed and executed by Métis chef Jenni Lessard and Cree chefJulie Bear. Many of the menu’s ingredients are harvested by the chefs from the valley or sourced from within 25 kilometres of Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Guests are invited to indulge in the flavours and stories of their creations as they detail their deep connection to the land and the ingredients that grow within.


Métis Chef Jenni Lessard - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

The main course of bison tenderloin is served in a truly inspirational setting in Wanuskewin’s tipi village. Guests are then led to the edge of an ancient bison jump where they are offered dessert and muskeg tea, complete with panoramic views of the South Saskatchewan River and Opimihaw Valley.


Bison tenderloin at Han Wi Moon Dinner - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

After dinner, a cultural presentation by artist Curtis Peeteetuce, an award-winning theatre artist, painter and grass dancer of Beardy’s Okemasis Cree Nation, will add to the experience. His spellbinding performance of “In memorial” details his personal journey in the aftermath of residential schools. This reclamation of culture and power is told in a deeply impactful way all without the use of words.



Cultural presentation by Curtis Peeteetuce - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

 Finally, Dr. Ernie Walker, archaeologist and co-founder of Wanuskewin Heritage Park, concludes the night by sharing his connection to this beautiful park. He tells his story of how “the loneliest ranch” on the outskirts of Saskatoon became placed on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage designation.


Dr. Ernie Walker, Co-founder of Wanuskewin Heritage Park - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

Wanuskewin Heritage Park is the longest operating archaeological site in Canada. The first archaeological work began in the early 1980s, and soon it became clear that this was a veritable “archaeological wonder”. In recent decades, nearly 200,000 artifacts have been uncovered, including teeth, bones, tools, pottery, shells, charcoal and seeds, as well as two bison jumps, ancient campsites and the world’s northernmost medicine wheel. Even obsidian was found. Many of these discoveries are even older than the ruins of Rome and Egypt’s pyramids.


Archaeological digging at Wanuskewin Heritage Park - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

Also Wanuskewin’s growing herd of bison – reintroduced in 2019 and descendants of the last 1,000 bison on the prairies before near-extinction in the 1870s –  played a huge role in a major archaeological find. Bison activity was credited with uncovering a 1,200-year-old petroglyph. Careful excavation revealed the stone tool used to carve the rock image, as well as three additional petroglyphs. 


Bison at Wanuskewin Heritage Park - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan

Other cultural experiences at Wanuskewin Heritage Park include archeological tours, native plant walks, and tipi sleepovers.

 

In 2024, the Han Wi Moon Dinners are offered every night from July 25 to 29. As space is limited, bookings need to be made online and well in advance.

 

Further information can be found at www.wanuskewin.com and www.tourismsaskatchewan.com.

 

 

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