Government of Canada and Mi’kmaq Nation Government of Epekwitk reach agreement to establish the 48th national park in Canada

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by ahnationtalk on July 4, 202418 Views


From: Parks Canada

July 4, 2024

Today, Mi’kmawey Kapmnt Ta’n Nikana’tu’tij Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaw-Saqmaq — the Mi’kmaw Nation Government of Prince Edward Island, as represented by the Prince Edward Island Chiefs, Chief Darlene Bernard of Lennox Island First Nation and Chief Junior Gould of Abegweit First Nation, and the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced that they have reached an agreement to establish a new national park reserve on the northwestern shores of Epekwitk (Prince Edward Island).

Comprised of a chain of barrier islands in northwestern P.E.I., the lands of Pituamkek (bee-DOO-um-gek) form one of the most ecologically significant coastal dune ecosystems in eastern Canada and hold great cultural and historical significance for the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq, the Mi’kmaq of Epekwitk, and residents of P.E.I.

In addition to its ecological and cultural importance, the archipelago also serves a critical function in helping mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events on coastal communities, as seen during Hurricane Fiona.

This agreement demonstrates the mutual commitment of the Government of Canada and the Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow, the Mi’kmaq Nation Government of Epekwitk, to establish long-term protection for this magnificent place.

Pituamkek, which means “At the Long Sand Dune”, is home to ancient and continuing Mi’kmaw land-use traditions, important cultural and archaeological sites, rare and sensitive ecosystems, and unique geological formations. Pituamkek is a place of remarkable natural beauty due to its coastal dune systems, old-growth forests, and Prince Edward Island’s only igneous rock incursion.

The Establishment Agreement, formalized by the Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow and the Government of Canada, lays out key elements of the future park reserve, such as a co-management governance model, guardian programming, community-based employment opportunities, and commitments for net-zero, climate smart infrastructure development.

This agreement builds on the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and a renewed government-to-government relationship with the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq. Working together, the Government of Canada and the Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow are taking action to protect this iconic natural and cultural landscape for future generations.

The work on assembling the park reserve lands is an ongoing partnership between L‘nuey, Parks Canada, Island Nature Trust, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and the Province of Prince Edward Island who have all been major contributors to the process. The Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow has led the way in initiating and continuously advocating for the establishment of Pituamkek National Park Reserve since the beginning of this process in 2006.

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Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow

Quotes

“This is a monumental step forward for the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq, Pituamkek is a Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape and holds tremendous cultural, ecological, and historical importance for our people. We have been fortunate to lead this process from the very beginning, and we look forward to finalizing the Establishment Agreement for this precious area and protecting it for generations to come.”

Chief Darlene Bernard
Lennox Island First Nation

“We have formed a strong relationship with Parks Canada over the years and this landmark announcement adds to the strength of our collaboration and work towards our shared interests. In order to move true reconciliation forward, we must have true partnership between Indigenous people and the federal government, and this agreement is a signal of the progress being made.”

Chief Junior Gould
Abegweit First Nation

“We are on a mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, and the collaboration between the Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow and Parks Canada to create the 48th national park in Canada at Pituamkek is a great advancement. Every day, it is more and more evident than ever that we must act now, together, to protect the most treasured areas that Canada has to offer. Protecting lands and waters and the fight against climate change are inextricably linked, and Indigenous partnership is crucial to both for Canada.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“Protecting this magnificent part of Prince Edward Island while maintaining access to healthy and environmentally sustainable activities including the fishery is a great accomplishment – and a credit to all those involved. Furthermore, I know a lot of people in the western part of our province are enthusiastically preparing to help show off this special part of Canada to visitors from across our country and around the world.”

Bobby Morrissey
Member of Parliament for Egmont, Prince Edward Island

“Prince Edward Island has seen significant growth in the number of acres of protected land over the last couple of years. We can only succeed in increasing green spaces and protecting Island ecosystems by working with our partners and our local communities, so I am grateful for the hard work of all involved in moving forward on this important national park.”

Steven Myers
Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Action, Prince Edward Island

Quick facts

  • On January 19, 2022, the Government of Canada and the Mi’kmaq Nation Government of Epekwitk/P.E.I. signed a Memorandum of Understanding indicating their agreement that a national park reserve area on the northwestern shores of Epekwitk/Prince Edward Island at Pituamkek is not only feasible, but also strongly desired by all parties.
  • The Pituamkek area on the northwestern shores of Epekwitk/Prince Edward Island constitutes a vital living link between Mi’kmaq culture, its history, and the environment. For this reason, the Mi’kmaq People of Prince Edward Island have a strong and enduring connection with the Pituamkek area and have recognized the area as a Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape.
  • The Mi’kmaq Epekwitnewaq Kapmntemuow have led the way in initiating and continuously advocating for the establishment of a national park reserve at Pituamkek since the beginning of this process.
  • The creation of Pituamkek National Park Reserve will be the first national park reserve to contribute to the Government of Canada’s commitment to create ten (10) new national parks by 2026.
  • In collaboration with Indigenous partners, stakeholders, and other levels of government, Canada is committed to protecting biodiversity and conserving 30 per cent of land and inland waters and 30 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2030.

Associated links

Contacts
Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
kaitlin.power@ec.gc.ca

Media Relations
Parks Canada
855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca

Sean Doke
Media Relations Officer
L’nuey
902-330-4420
sdoke@lnuey.ca

NT6

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