OTTAWA, Aug. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, today announced that the Government of Canada has taken the final step to create and protect Ukkusiksalik National Park of Canada by enshrining it in the Canada National Parks Act through an Order-in-Council.
The formal establishment of Ukkusiksalik National Park under the Canada National Parks Act will result in greater ecological protection for important northern ecosystems and contribute to the completion of Parks Canada's National Parks System by protecting a representative portion of the Central Tundra Natural Region.
This final step legally brings Ukkusiksalik under Canada's strongest legislation for the protection of natural areas and provides Parks Canada with full administrative and legal authority to manage Ukkusiksalik as a national park.
The National Conservation Plan (NCP), launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, provides a shared and coherent vision to advance conservation efforts across the country. Ukkusiksalik National Park contributes to the NCP's priority areas by conserving Canada's lands and waters and connecting Canadians with nature.
- Ukkusiksalik National Park surrounds Wager Bay in Nunavut. It contains an impressive variety of land forms including eskers, mudflats, cliffs, rolling tundra banks and unique coastal regions.
- Named Ukkusiksalik, after the soapstone found within its boundaries, the 20,880 km2 park is home to caribou, muskox, wolf, polar bear, barren-ground grizzly bear, and arctic hare, as well as golden eagles, peregrine falcons and other species.
- The Harper Government has added an area nearly twice the size of Vancouver Island to the network of federal protected areas, including: a six-fold expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, the world's first protected area extending from the mountain tops to the sea floor (Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site); and the world's largest freshwater protected area (Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area).
- Northern national parks and national historic sites are key natural, cultural, recreational and tourism assets and provide the setting for culture or nature-based tourism activities, science/research, and conservation as well as for the continuation of traditional activities.
"Our Government is committed to ensuring our natural heritage and rich biodiversity is protected for all Canadians today and into the future. Canada's North is home to the world's most spectacular scenery and pristine wilderness and I'm tremendously pleased to be announcing Ukkusiksalik will be protected for future generations. This final step, that supports our Government's National Conservation Plan, marks the completion of years of hard work and dedication of many Northerners."
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
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Ukkusiksalik National Park
Designations of new national parks are guided by Canada's National Parks System Plan, with the goal of representing each of Canada's 39 natural regions with at least one national park. Creating new national parks serves the Government of Canada's efforts to protect the environment, strengthen local communities and rural economies
Parks Canada works to ensure Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and invites Canadians and people around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our treasured natural and historic places. Parks Canada's network now includes 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has taken actions to add 161,389 square kilometres to Parks Canada's network of protected areas. As a result, this would increase the total land and water that comes under our stewardship by more than half. This represents a significant contribution to the conservation goals of the National Conservation Plan.
Ukkusiksalik has been under study as a national park since 1978. In October 1996, the Government of Canada announced that lands would be reserved under the Territorial Lands Act for a national park in the area. The Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement for Ukkusiksalik was signed in August 2003 in which the Government of Canada committed to establishing the proposed national park in this area. This park protects approximately 20,880 km2 within the Central Tundra Natural Region. At the heart of Ukkusiksalik National Park is Wager Bay, an inland sea that extends 100 km westward from Hudson Bay.
Ukkusiksalik National Park of Canada contains an impressive variety of land forms including eskers, mudflats, cliffs, and rolling tundra hills. A wide range of habitats exist in the park, supporting such wildlife as caribou, muskox, wolf, polar bear, barren-ground grizzly bear, and arctic hare. Along the Arctic coast, Canada geese, snow geese, tundra swans and other waterfowl nest and moult. Overhead, golden eagle, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, gyrfalcon, rough-legged hawk and other birds of prey soar.
Coastal elements are prominent in the park, which includes a major marine component. Wager Bay has distinct features which include eight-metre tides and strong tidal action that produces a dramatic reversing waterfall. In addition, two areas of salt water remain open year-round, contributing to the rich marine mammal life found in the park.
The area is also considered to be of scientific and historic importance due to the number and quality of its archaeological sites. Over 500 archaeological sites have been identified in the park, including such features as fox traps, tent rings, food caches and Inuksuit. Glimpses of more recent history can also be found at the abandoned Hudson Bay Post and deserted Roman Catholic mission.
The Government of Canada has now taken the final step to formally establish Ukkusiksalik National Park under the Canada National Parks Act. This will result in greater ecological protection to important northern ecosystems and contribute to the completion of Parks Canada's National Parks System by protecting a representative portion of the Central Tundra Natural Region. It will also honour the commitment made to Inuit to establish this park.
The Government of Canada has already made significant investment toward the establishment and operation of Ukkusiksalik including setting up an operations centre in Repulse Bay.
The rights, title and interest of Inuit in the Nunavut Settlement Area were settled by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (1993). Under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, national parks could not be established in the Nunavut Settlement Area until the Government of Canada negotiated with a designated Inuit organization, in this case the Kivalliq Inuit Association, for the purpose of concluding an Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement.
Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement negotiations have been completed between the Government of Canada, the Kivalliq Inuit Association and the Government of Nunavut. Inuit from the seven communities of the region were represented on the negotiating team.
The provisions of the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement generally fall into two categories:
- processes for providing Inuit participation in the planning, operation and management of the parks, and
- provisions to strengthen the ability of Inuit to take advantage of economic opportunities associated with parks.
The Kivalliq Inuit Association is one of the three regional Inuit organizations affiliated with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
Residents from Kivalliq communities continue to travel to the area to hunt and fish. Under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Inuit hunters and trappers will retain all subsistence-harvesting rights in the area.
As with all national parks, people will be able to visit Ukkusiksalik so that they can experience and appreciate it in ways that are ecologically sensitive and consistent with the essence of this incredible and iconic place.
SOURCE: Parks Canada
For further information: Office of the Minister of the Environment, 819-997-1441; Media Relations, Parks Canada, 855-862-1812, www.twitter.com/parkscanada