NAUJAAT, NU, July 2, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today officially opened Ukkusiksalik National Park at a ceremony in the community of Naujaat, previously known as Repulse Bay.
Ukkusiksalik National Park will foster tourism and create employment and economic opportunities for surrounding communities. It will also allow Canadians and international visitors alike to be able to experience this iconic arctic landscape and share in the richness of Inuit culture. It also honours the commitment made to Inuit to establish this park.
Officially protected under Canada's strongest legislation for the conservation of natural areas, Ukkusiksalik National Park represents the combined efforts of Inuit, the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut to ensure that this area is protected for present and future generations. Ukkusiksalik National Park is managed cooperatively with Inuit through the Ukkusiksalik Park Management Committee, made up of community members from Naujaat, Coral Harbour, Chesterfield Inlet, Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet. The new Ukkusiksalik National Park Operational Centre will connect visitors to the park and serve as a base of operations and provide jobs in the community.
Ukkusiksalik National Park is one of many examples of government leadership in support of Canada's National Conservation Plan by conserving Canada's lands and waters, restoring Canada's ecosystems, and connecting Canadians to nature.
- Ukkusiksalik National Park surrounds Wager Bay in Nunavut, an inland sea that extends 100 km westward from Hudson Bay, and the region has always been, and remains, important to local Inuit communities, who travel there to hunt and fish.
- Named Ukkusiksalik after the soapstone found within its boundary, the 20,880 km2 park is home to caribou, muskox, wolf, polar bear, barren-ground grizzly and arctic hare, as well as golden eagles, peregrine falcons and other species. It also contains an impressive variety of land forms including eskers, mudflats, cliffs, rolling tundra banks and unique coastal regions.
- The formal establishment of Ukkusiksalik National Park under the Canada National Parks Act ensures greater ecological protection to important northern ecosystems. In doing so, it contributes to the completion of Canada's National Parks System by protecting, for the first-time, a representative portion of the Central Tundra Natural Region.
- On June 23, 2015, Qausuittuq National Park was formally established on the northern part of Bathurst Island as Canada's 45th national park. Qausuittuq joins Ukkusiksalik and the other national parks in Nunavut to protect the region's rich natural and cultural heritage while creating jobs and opportunities for Inuit.
"The opening of Ukkusiksalik National Park will provide a unique opportunity for people from around the world to experience the beauty of the Kivalliq region, and to hear its stories and share in its culture. The park will not only promote our culture and traditions, it will foster tourism, create jobs and economic opportunities for Inuit living in surrounding communities."
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
"Ukkusiksalik National Park showcases the stark beauty and dignity of Nunavut's Kivalliq region. Thank you to the people of the surrounding communities for your hard work and dedication in making this a reality. I am excited that visitors from across Canada and beyond will now be able experience this part of our territory's culture and lifestyle, in a protected area."
The Honourable Johnny Mike, Nunavut's Minister of the Environment
"The communities of Naujaat, Coral Harbour, Chesterfield Inlet, Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake have been waiting a long time for this day. Ukkusiksalik National Park is an important part of our lives and of our history. We are very happy that Ukkusiksalik National Park is now protected to ensure our grandchildren and their children can continue to benefit from this very important part of our land – of Nunavut. The Ukkusiksalik Park Management Committee will continue to work with Parks Canada staff as we manage this valuable place – together."
Jackie Nakoolak, Chair of the Ukkusiksalik Park Management Committee
Ukkusiksalik National Park
Ukkusiksalik National 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.
The national park 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. The region has always been, and remains, important to local Inuit communities, who travel there to hunt and fish. 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.
Ukkusiksalik has been under study as a national park since 1978. In August 2014, the Government of Canada took the final step to formally establish Ukkusiksalik National Park under the Canada National Parks Act. This resulted in greater ecological protection to important northern ecosystems and contributes to the completion of Canada's National Parks System by protecting a representative portion of the Central Tundra Natural Region. It also honours the commitment made to Inuit to establish this park.
Since 2006, the Government of Canada has taken actions that will eventually add a total of 161,389 square kilometres to its network of protected areas. As a result, this would increase the total land and water that comes under Parks Canada's stewardship by more than half. This represents a significant contribution to the conservation goals of the National Conservation Plan.
SOURCE Parks Canada
Image with caption: "Ukkusiksalik National Park (CNW Group/Parks Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150702_C4214_PHOTO_EN_433216.jpg
For further information: Jonathan Lefebvre, Office of the Minister of the Environment, 819-997-1441 ; Bronwyn Pavey, Nunavut Field Unit, 867-222-0771; Media Relations, Parks Canada, 855-862-1812; www.twitter.com/parkscanada