Our neighbors to the north want to share the health benefits of spending time in nature.
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VSthe anada has a huge 48 national parks and reserves. These vast landscapes are more than beautiful to look at, they provide mental and physical health benefits that Canada wishes to share with Americans.
Destination Canada, the country’s tourism arm, and Parks Canada, its national parks service, recently announced that Americans can enter to win one of 4,000 Parks Canada Discovery Passes lasting a year.
“We are next-door neighbors and want to welcome back our American friends with access to places that we know will lift their spirits,” said Gloria Loree, Director of Marketing for Destination Canada. in a press release. “We have lush forests, endless coastlines, towering mountains and spectacular lakes, but we have more than that. We have the ability to help Americans cool off, connect with nature, and take time to deepen their appreciation of the richness that exists in these beautiful spaces.
The passes are valued at $113 each and will grant access to all of Canada’s National Parks as well as its National Marine Conservation Areas and Historic Sites. Entrants have until 11:59 p.m. ET on July 31 to participate in the online competition. To participate, you must be a legal resident of one of the 50 US states (or the District of Columbia) and at least 21 years old. Winners will be announced on or around August 2.
Those who win will have the chance to explore parks ranging from massive waterfalls and jagged fjords to Gros Morne National Park to the glacier-fed rivers and natural hot springs of Kootenay National Park to boreal forest and arctic tundra (with potential polar bear sightings) from Wapusk National Park and the high elevation lakes of Banff National Park.
In January, Parks Canada developed PaRx, a program that allows physicians to prescribe a free annual Parks Canada Adult Discovery Pass to patients who could benefit from time in nature.
The program “is a breakthrough in the way we deal with mental and physical health issues, and couldn’t come at a better time as we continue to battle the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives” , said Steven Guilbeault, General Manager of Canada. Minister of Environment and Climate Change who oversees Parks Canada.
“Medical research now clearly shows the health benefits of connecting with nature,” Guilbeault said in a statement. Press release on nature prescription program.
In addition to free park passes, Canada is giving a person a “dream nature sabbatical” worth $20,000.
The sabbatical “includes everything you need to reap the mental and physical benefits of time spent in the Canadian wilderness,” Destination Canada said. Transportation, accommodation, excursions, equipment from Monos and Arc’teryx (both Canadian outdoor retailers) and an allowance for food and incidentals are all covered by the prize money. All trips must take place within one year, although the length of the sabbatical during that year depends on the winner.
Destination Canada will also help develop a tailored itinerary that includes Indigenous-led experiences, outdoor adventures and urban experiences. The sabbatical registration form is part of the same registration form as the park passes, but those who want to try their hand at the sabbatical will have the opportunity to explain why they need more time in Canada’s national parks and how they will spend this time.
Canada reopened to tourists from the United States on August 9, 2021 (and to all international visitors on September 7, 2021). Only fully vaccinated travelers (i.e. they have received two Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can enter Canada. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded to the ArriveCAN app or website. No pre-arrival testing is currently required to visit Canada.
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