Straight talk on National Parks Act
We are writing an open letter to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkag to express our support for the proposed building of the Never Forgotten National Memorial (NFNM) at Green Cove in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
As you know, according the National Parks Act, Article 4, ‘the National Parks of Canada are hereby dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment subject to this Act and the regulations, and the parks shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.’
Further, the Parks Canada Charter has as its mandate: ‘On behalf of the people of Canada, we protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.’
In an open letter addressed to you by former senior Parks Canada managers dated June 4, 2015, they insisted that the positioning of the Never Forgotten National Memorial at Green Cove ‘was in violation of the site’s wilderness zone designation as detailed in the management plan for the park.’ This is a complete falsehood! The signers apparently did not do their homework or deliberately misled you. The map on page 37 of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park management plan clearly shows that Green Cove is well outside the designated wilderness zone and is characterized as a Zone 4 site. This was confirmed by Derek Quann, acting superintendent at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park office, on June 22.
Zone 4 designation is given to small areas that are capable of accommodating a broad range of opportunities for education and outdoor recreation, including the major facilities and infrastructure required for visitor experience. Direct access by motorized vehicles is permitted here but not in wilderness zones. Presently, the park has little in the way of cultural exposition. In the Plan, Article 3.2.5: ‘Parks Canada must ensure that cultural resources and cultural landscapes are recognized, protected and presented so that the public can learn about and appreciate the Park’s cultural heritage.’
Further, Article 5.1.2 of the plan states that Parks Canada, ‘working with partners, explore the possibility of offering natural/cultural experiences where visitors not only enjoy natural surrounding but also immerse themselves in the deep cultural roots within the communities.’
In Article 5.2, ‘in collaboration with communities and stakeholders, the park will explore the human history of the Highlands. By linking the past and the present our cultural heritage helps us appreciate the human experience and better understand who we are as Canadians.’
Further, the park will ‘develop interpretive products in Ingonish that complement natural and cultural features to convey a sense of place.’
Article 6 states: ‘Parks Canada will provide increased opportunities for Canadians to be involved with Parks Canada places in activities they consider meaningful and relevant.’
The little village of Green Cove may be considered representative of the many similar communities in Canada where determined settlers eked out a living from nature’s resources. All of these communities were not too small to send their sons and daughters to participate in the cause for freedom throughout the world – some never returned home.
What better site could we have to help Mother Canada welcome those fallen Canadians. In her plain garment, devoid of any military paraphernalia, an everywoman – arms outstretched – would stand ready to embrace her children once again.
In conclusion we heartily and respectively support the commemorative Never Forgotten National Memorial at Green Cove in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Ray and Audrey Stapleton Ingonish