Pituamkek National Park Reserve
Located in northwestern Prince Edward Island (Epekwitk), in close proximity to the Lennox Island First Nation reserve, is a chain of islands known in the Mi’kmaq language as Pituamkek (Bee-doo-um-gek) or “At the Long Sand Dune”, and in English as Hog Island and the Sandhills.
In 2006, representatives from the Mi’kmaq communities of P.E.I., Parks Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Museum of History) conducted a foot survey on Hog Island. Two confirmed archaeological sites were discovered and the cultural and ecological importance of the area, already known to the local Mi’kmaq community, was brought to the attention of government officials.
The Lennox Island and Abegweit First Nations, together known as the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq, developed and submitted a proposal to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada to create a cooperatively managed national park reserve or other type of protected area in the Pituamkek region.
In 2009, a tripartite group of representatives from the federal, provincial and the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq governments began a dialogue to find mutually acceptable ways to protect the Pituamkek region. Dialogue involving the First Nations, the province of P.E.I. and Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC) identified shared conservation goals for the area. Around this time, the NCC began acquiring parcels of land in the area for conservation.
Since then, multiple organizations have worked together to acquire lands for conservation and to build relationships and additional support for the Pituamkek park reserve project. The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Island Nature Trust, Parks Canada and the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq, through the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, have each played significant roles in the development of the vision and continuation of the project.
In response to several years of advocacy from the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq, in August 2019, a historic tripartite announcement from the Province of Prince Edward Island, Epekwitk Mi’kmaq and Parks Canada formally launched the undertaking of a feasibility assessment for the proposed national park reserve in Pituamkek.
The collaborative efforts in this establishment process by Parks Canada and the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils demonstrate the Government of Canada’s commitment to working with Indigenous communities to increase the Indigenous voice in all aspects of the establishment and management of Parks Canada administered places.
The public consultation process was scheduled to begin in early 2020, but was delayed by emergency orders surrounding the coronavirus. Between June 4, 2021 and July 23, 2021, Parks Canada and L’nuey, representing the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, invited partners, stakeholders and the public to provide their input on key aspects for consideration in establishing a national park reserve in northwestern Prince Edward Island through a series of public engagement opportunities.
A third-party consultation company was hired in July 2021 to assess and report the findings of the public engagement and input phase. The report demonstrated almost unanimous support for the proposed creation of a national park reserve in the Pituamkek area.
With the feasibility assessment and public engagement complete, Parks Canada and the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq plan to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to outline next steps and provide a framework of collaboration as negotiations begin toward the creation of an establishment agreement. Working together, the Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island and the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq continue to take action to protect this iconic natural and cultural landscape for future generations.
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