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Park Program for New Canadians: A Case Study Process and Outcomes Evaluation of Nature as a Second Language Open Access


Other title
New Canadians
park programs
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Salenieks, Therese
Supervisor and department
Dr. Elizabeth Halpenny (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Gordon Walker (Physical Education and Recreation)
Dr. Glen Hvenegaard (Geography and Environmental Studies)
Physical Education and Recreation
Recreation and Leisure Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
The majority of Canadian and American park visitors are Caucasian. Studies in Canada and the US suggest that the under-representation of ethnic minorities in parks may be due to these issues: a lack of friends who can teach them how to go to parks; a lack of multi-lingual information about parks; safety concerns; and transportation issues. Ethnic groups tend to recreate with their own group members, specifically preferring to spend time with family and friends, it has been found that New Canadians, while aware of a broad spectrum of activities in parks, prefer passive activities, such as taking pictures, nature viewing and picnicking to active activities like backpacking, climbing and mountain biking. In 2008, a new Kananaskis Country program, Nature as a Second Language (NSL) was launched by Alberta Parks to increase park inclusiveness by introducing New Canadians to the park experience and provide them with the tools necessary for, independent park visitation. This study, investigated the long-term outcomes of NSL; the research questions that guided this study were: 1) what are the outcomes of the Nature as a Second Language program? 2) how do the components of the Nature as a Second Language program lead to specific outcomes? A case study method was used for this study, with the case being the NSL program and its participants from 2008-2013. Data collection involved NSL staff and volunteer interviews, a past participant survey-questionnaire and past participant interviews. Thirty-three past participants complete the questionnaire and five staff and nine past participants completed an interview. Survey findings found that while participants did not change their level of visitation to parks, they did change the type of activities that they engage in in parks before and after NSL. Interview findings suggest that past participants experience various outcomes as a result of NSL and the whole program may have contributed to those outcomes. The results of this study are no generalizable as it was a case study, but they do suggest that park programs for New Canadians may produce positive outcomes.
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