Progress Report on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks
Building Partnerships for Ecological Integrity
The Panel identifies in very explicit terms and makes positive recommendations on a topic that we all know well – what we do in our backyard has an impact on our neighbours' backyards! Our national parks share with the provinces and territories, Aboriginal peoples, private land owners and various other interests common boundaries over which nature makes no distinction. One day a grizzly bear is in a national park, and the next day it is outside; water pollution from one source affects other water users far removed; acid rain from hundreds of kilometres away becomes a problem when it affects national park resources – the list goes on.
The Panel envisioned renewed and extended cooperation among neighbours who share these common resources and concerns, and Parks Canada is making this a priority. The nature of collaborative work to be undertaken will be established in cooperation with interested partners; the constitutionally defined role of the provinces and the rights of private property owners will be respected.
"We will work to improve relationships and cooperative activities with Aboriginal people, particularly at the local level; continue to respect existing Aboriginal and treaty rights; and find new ways to work with Aboriginal people toward common goals of conservation, education and economic development." (Action Plan)
Progress to Date
- As a step toward more effective consultations between Parks Canada and Aboriginal peoples, the Minister and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) are considering the establishment of a Parks Canada/AFN working group. The working group would be a forum to discuss ways of ensuring effective communications with First Nations on key initiatives.
- A Round Table on Aboriginal Tourism is planned. This will be attended by both umbrella Aboriginal tourism organizations and Aboriginal tourism operators.
- The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has established a Sub-committee on Aboriginal Economic Development in Relation to Northern National Parks; this sub-committee will be looking at opportunities to expand economic development associated with national parks in northern Canada. It intends to convene hearings in Ottawa and selected northern communities in spring 2001.
- Parks Canada's Aboriginal Employment Strategy is being implemented as a priority. The Aboriginal Leadership Development Program brought together Aboriginal staff from across the country in Yukon this past summer. As well, nearly 20 percent of students hired through the Young Canada Works program this past summer were Aboriginal.
- Parks Canada's Newfoundland West and Labrador Field Unit contains the proposed Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in northern Labrador. In preparation for meeting future employment needs, a partnership has been developed with the Labrador Inuit Association to arrange and sponsor work term placements, training and coaching opportunities across the Parks Canada system for seven Inuit students.
- A new Aboriginal Affairs position has been created and will soon be filled in Atlantic Canada. The incumbent will have the overall lead on Aboriginal issues in the Atlantic Provinces.