INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDEN — In a visible sign of friendship between Manitoba and North Dakota, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday jointly announced more than $12 million in funding the Canadian province and the U.S. state have allocated for improvements at the International Peace Garden.

The Manitoba government is providing $7.5 million in funding for infrastructure improvement at the IPG, near Dunseith, N.D., matching the North Dakota Legislature’s requirement during the 2019 session when it approved a $3 million Bank of North Dakota loan, besides $2 million in one-time funds for capital improvements. North Dakota has provided more than $14 million for operations, maintenance and improvements since 2013.

The 89-year-old garden, which straddles the border between the United States and Canada, is made up of 2,399 acres of gardens, fountains and buildings that include a conservatory, greenhouses and interpretive buildings.

“There’s a ton of good work that goes on here for families,” Pallister said, noting that he visited the International Peace Garden when he was a child.

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“Parks and green spaces are important places for us to visit, enjoy or find peace,” he said. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the green spaces especially were appreciated as people spent more time outdoors.

“This investment today is important because the International Peace Garden means a lot to us,” Pallister said. ”We could not do this alone. We don’t compete as much as we build together.”

Gov. Doug Burgum steps onto the U.S. side of the podium as Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is seated on the Canadian side at the International Peace Gardens Monday during an event to announce funding for the International Peace Gardens. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Gov. Doug Burgum steps onto the U.S. side of the podium as Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is seated on the Canadian side at the International Peace Gardens Monday during an event to announce funding for the International Peace Gardens. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Burgum appreciated Pallister’s effort and said it's fitting the two, who have worked together over the years, were united in person at the border to make the funding announcement about the International Peace Garden on the last day that Pallister has a public appearance as Manitoba’s premier.

“To do it right here on the border, that seems appropriate,” Burgum said. “I am so deeply appreciative of his leadership and service.”

Pallister will step down Wednesday.

The peaceful coexistence between the United States and Canada that the IPG symbolizes was demonstrated by the willingness of Burgum and the state of North Dakota to vaccinate more than 3,000 Canadian truckers at several North Dakota rest areas. Pallister inducted Burgum and the citizens of North Dakota into Manitoba's Order of the Buffalo Hunt in recognition for collaborating on the program. The award, established in 1957, is given to Manitobans and to friends of the province.

“I was tremendously pleased earlier this year to make an announcement with Gov. Burgum to vaccinate our truck drivers,” Pallister said before presenting Burgum with the award.

Burgum expressed appreciation for the award and said, in the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, a Canadian band that received the Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1987, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”’

Future plans for the International Peace Garden include a 90th celebration in 2022, when a children’s play park and expanded conservatory will open. Burgum hopes that in 2032, a 100th celebration will be held similar to the event that showcased the International Peace Garden when it opened in 1932. That event saw 50,000 in attendance.

In the more immediate future, Burgum and Pallister hope the U.S. portion of the border between the two countries opens soon. Canada has relaxed its restrictions for U.S. residents crossing the border, but the U.S. has not yet reciprocated.

“We need the border open in both directions,” Burgum said, noting how the two countries share tourism, business and family interests. “Those are all reasons the border needs to be open, and open now.’“

ND Gov. Doug Burgum talks about collaborating with the Manitoba government to fund infrastructure and redevelopment improvements at the International Peace Gardens during an event, Monday, August 30, 2021 at the International Peace Gardens. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
ND Gov. Doug Burgum talks about collaborating with the Manitoba government to fund infrastructure and redevelopment improvements at the International Peace Gardens during an event, Monday, August 30, 2021 at the International Peace Gardens. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald