IG news Update,
The Mi’kmaq have lived on the land of Cape Breton for thousands of years and now Parks Canada wants to build a more formal relationship with them.
The federal agency has drawn up a 10-year plan for Cape Breton Highlands National Park and is working toward creating a shared management structure with the Mi’kmaq in what it describes as ongoing rights negotiations.
“We like [have] Greater emphasis on relations with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and collaborative management of the park. We also have more attention to climate change and the ecosystem impact of parks,” said Julie Cossett, a Parks Canada acting visitor experience manager.
“It’s about the concept of two-eyed seeing – how to weigh Western knowledge with Indigenous knowledge and work together to help us make the best decisions for park management.”
Cossett said the plan was developed in collaboration with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, along with input from local communities, tourism operators and organizations, and other stakeholders. Overall, Parks Canada said it worked with 44 stakeholders and received more than 200 responses to a public survey.
Planning goals include expanding cultural programming, events and festivals, as well as finding new ways to connect the Mi’kmaq with the park.
Parks Canada and the Mi’kmaq group will also explore the possibility of giving the park a new Mi’kmaq name.
Additional strategies for the park are working with the Mi’kmaq on conservation efforts, attracting visitors during the cool season, becoming more environmentally friendly and more inclusive to all Canadians.
“It just seems a natural thing,” said Cossette of the partnership with the Mi’kmaq.
“Working more in collaboration makes sense. For the future of the park, there must be both perspectives in every decision for the best of the park.”
Cossett said work on some of the projects proposed by Parks Canada would begin soon, while others would take years to implement.