Park Planners and Managers

ORPT graduates are passionate about parks and protected areas.  Having developed strong connections to the land, they work hard alongside community members to ensure these spaces retain their cultural significance and ecological integrity, while serving as places for compatible forms of outdoor recreation.

Laani Uunila

image of Laani Uunila

HBOR/BA (Geography), 1999

I graduated in 1999 with an HBOR and BA (Geog) and have a Masters in Resource and Environmental Planning from Massey University, New Zealand (2002; Commonwealth Scholar). I started working for Parks Canada as a Heritage Presenter. I quickly moved through various positions and was in the Planning Unit for many years as a Consultation Advisor and Planner.

In 2014, I became the first Superintendent for Nááts'įhch'oh National Park Reserve. One of the most significant projects was working with the Park’s Management Committee, supporting a traditional knowledge study with Shutaot’ine Elders that set the foundation for bringing back traditional names. 

I’m now the Implementation Manager for Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve. The Park is part of a complex of protected areas, all of which are encompassed by Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area, declared by the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation. My job is to envision how to do things differently so the cultural landscape, Indigenous use, and active management by Indigenous Peoples, to achieve synergistic park operations. Thaidene Nëné Xá Dá Yáłtı, the operational management board, guides operations. We are still in early days and working closely with Indigenous governments and other partners as we move forward.

My ORPT honours project (water trails) opened many doors; it was partially funded by Parks Canada. While still at Lakehead, I was invited to present at the North American Water Trails Conference. Those experiences, plus others I gained during my Master’s, provided a solid foundation for a very interesting career to date. ORPT also introduced me to whitewater. Paddling has been a lifelong passion and has brought me to many amazing places around the world - including representing Canada at Canoe Polo Worlds.

Olaf Jensen

HBOR/BSc, 1995Olaf Jensen portrait

I graduated from Lakehead in 1995. Upon graduating, my girlfriend – now wife of 25 years – and I left Thunder Bay by canoe and paddled home to Saskatchewan. I’ve worked in parks and protected areas my whole career. First, I worked with Parks Canada for 8 years as a warden in the western parks. I then joined the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada) in 2004 as the habitat biologist and protected areas specialist for the Prairie Region, based out of Edmonton. I worked with private landowners, the military and the province on land conservation initiatives. I moved to Gatineau in 2010 as the manager (now director) of Environment Climate Change Canada’s protected areas program (National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries). We operate 147 protected areas covering 15 million hectares – Canada's biggest protected areas program.