In de­fense of the Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial

Park Plan has the man­date to pre­serve and present the cul­tural re­sources of the park and their sto­ries

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL - Ray Sta­ple­ton Ray Sta­ple­ton is a re­tired teacher and a pas­sion­ate sup­porter of the Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial. He lives in In­go­nish.

The U.K.’s ‘Guardian news­pa­per letters’ mast­head has this quote: “Com­ment is free ... but facts are sa­cred.”

In a public state­ment, Sean Howard, spokesman for the Friends of Green Cove, said that his group was not op­posed to the Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial (NFNM), which will hon­our the mem­ory of the 114,000 fallen Cana­di­ans who never made it “home.”

Rather, they were against the site based on two premises:

1.Green Cove has a pro­tected Wilder­ness Zone Des­ig­na­tion

2.It was against Parks Canada pol­icy

These dec­la­ra­tions he sup­ported with an open let­ter by 28 for­mer Parks Canada se­nior man­agers.

Af­ter care­ful in­spec­tion, Ge­orge Mercer, a for­mer Parks Canada war­den and pas­sion­ate pro­tec­tor of Canada’s na­tional parks, and a co-signer of the let­ter, pub­li­cally ac­knowl­edged that they were wrong. In fact, Green Cove has the same Zone Des­ig­na­tion 4 as the camp­sites and the golf course. Se­condly, the Park Plan has the man­date to pre­serve and present the cul­tural re­sources of the park and their sto­ries.

I should note, how­ever, that while Mercer has ex­pressed his “ut­most re­spect for vet­er­ans,” he still doesn’t want the me­mo­rial to vet­er­ans in the park.

That said the Cape Bre­ton High­land Na­tional Park is man­dated to ac­tively reach out to the cul­tural knowl­edge hold­ers to fa­cil­i­tate op­por­tu­ni­ties for these in­di­vid­u­als to tell their own sto­ries – the hu­man history of the Cape Bre­ton High­lands. When the ma­jor premises of an ar­gu­ment are de­feated, your ar­gu­ment is de­feated.

That’s de­bat­ing 101.

The na­tional parks were never in­tended to be eco­log­i­cal re­serves. They also have an equally im­por­tant cul­tural com­po­nent. Af­ter the in­tro­duc­tory pre­am­ble to the Na­tional Parks Act, this state­ment fol­lows: “The Na­tional Parks of Canada are ded­i­cated to the peo­ple of Canada for their ben­e­fit, ed­u­ca­tion and en­joy­ment ...” Parks were cre­ated so that the gen­eral public would have

ac­cess to these ar­eas to en­joy the won­ders of na­ture with­out com­pro­mis­ing pri­vate prop­erty.”

As such, the sto­ries of the in­dige­nous peo­ple, the early set­tlers, the Metis con­nec­tion and the fish­ing vil­lage of Green Cove must be pre­served and pre­sented. The sto­ry­tellers like Tuma Young, Jimmy Cooke, Tommy Young, Emer­son Barron, Joanne Doucette and oth­ers must have their sto­ries pre­served and pre­sented be­fore they are lost in the mists of time. Freddy Wil­liams, in his book “Another Rock,” chron­i­cles the history of Green Cove in chap­ter seven.

Howard may not be aware of the strong cul­tural con­nec­tion that the peo­ple of Cape Bre­ton, and through­out Nova Sco­tia, have with Canada’s armed forces. Even to­day, with around three per cent of the Cana­dian pop­u­la­tion, ap­prox­i­mately 10 per cent of armed forces per­son­nel are from Nova Sco­tia.

Cape Bre­ton­ers are proud of their ser­vice to the na­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the times of the first and sec­ond world wars. They have will­ingly hon­oured Canada’s com­mit­ment to fight op­pres­sion by tyrants and se­cure peace through­out the world.

In the First World War, al­most 50 per cent of the el­i­gi­ble mil­i­tary-aged Maliseets and Mi’Kmaqs an­swered the call to

arms. Three hun­dred of the 4,000 in­dige­nous re­cruits in Canada made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

In both of the world wars, the area North of Smokey had one of

the high­est re­cruit­ment rates per capita in Canada. Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, New Water­ford had the high­est re­cruit­ment rate for com­par­a­tive sized towns in the whole of the Bri­tish Com­mon­wealth. So many coal min­ers were sign­ing up, they had to stop re­cruit­ing for fear the mines would not func­tion.

The Never For­got­ten Na­tional Me­mo­rial should not be a po­lit­i­cal football to toss about to fit some in­di­vid­ual’s or group’s agenda. Its pur­pose is to hon­our the ser­vice and mem­ory of our war dead. The price of hu­man life should al­ways be clearly re­mem­bered.

Kather­ine Ma­cLen­nan, the sav­ior of Louis­bourg, stated: ...”a vis­ual me­mo­rial is a nec­es­sary ad­junct to a liv­ing past, and it is far more il­lu­mi­nat­ing than the most elo­quent words”.

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