Torngat Mountains National Park of Canada
Saglek Fjord © Parks Canada / Heiko Wittenborn
On behalf of our staff, I extend a warm welcome to visitors to Canada’s 42nd, and newest national park.
The story of the establishment of this park is a story of working with Inuit as equal partners. Parks Canada recognizes and honours their special historical and cultural relationship with the land. Inuit knowledge will be incorporated in all aspects of park management. In fact, co-operative management is a defining feature of our park, and one that we view as a shared accomplishment.
Torngat Mountains National Park is a special place. I hope your visit will help you discover its rich cultural history and magnificent natural heritage.
Judy Rowell, Superintendent
Establishment of Torngat Mountains National Park
Inuit in Ramah Bay © Parks Canada / Heiko
Canada’s Newest National Park
The Torngat Mountains National Park is the 42nd national park to be established in Canada. According to Parks Canada’s National Parks System Plan, the park is representative of Canada’s natural region 24 – the Northern Labrador Mountains.
The system plan was devised in the early 1970s to provide a framework for a systematic approach to identifying and establishing new national parks. To create the plan, scientists divided the country into 39 distinct natural regions based on landscape and vegetation.
The goal of the plan is to create at least one national park in each natural region, ensuring that a representative sample of each region is given protection for now and for future generations. Parks Canada continues to work towards ensuring that all 39 regions will eventually contain at least one national park. Currently, there are 42 parks, representing 29 regions.
The Context for Park Establishment
View from above Nachvak Fjord © Parks Canada / Heiko Wittenborn
The Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve was formally established when the legislation giving effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement was enacted on December 1, 2005. The national park reserve became the Torngat Mountains National Park when the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement came into legal effect on July 10, 2008.
This magnificent wilderness area will be protected into the future for the benefit of all Canadians - in large measure due to the vision and generosity of both the Labrador and Nunavik Inuit. The creation of Torngat Mountains as Canada’s 42nd national park is the culmination of a long park establishment process – one that touches on five decades.
Research to identify a possible national park in northern Labrador began in 1969. While identification of a potential park area came early, the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA) indicated that it intended to file a land claim with the Government of Canada at a future date. It therefore preferred that any discussions about park establishment be included as part of the land claim negotiation process and plans to pursue a national park in this area went on hold
The land claim was filed by the LIA in 1977 and accepted by Canada for negotiation the following year. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador agreed to participate in 1980, with active negotiation getting underway in 1984.
Signing the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement © Nunatsiavut Government
By 1990, some key developments opened the door for discussions to resume on the possibility of a national park in the Torngat Mountains. First, Parks Canada’s relationship with aboriginal people had evolved over the years into a new and positive one. This prompted LIA to reconsider the value of creating a national park to protect Inuit rights and interests while at the same time protecting the ecological integrity of the area. Second, the LIA land claim was under active negotiation. This allowed LIA to address park establishment issues in this context. Third, the federal government announced its new Green Plan that provided impetus for completing the national park system by 2000. In 1992, Parks Canada, the LIA, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, announced a joint study to assess the feasibility of a national park in the Torngat Mountains of Northern Labrador.
In 2005, Canada and the Labrador Inuit Association concluded the Labrador Inuit Park Impacts and Benefits Agreement for the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve of Canada . This agreement along with the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Memorandum of Agreement for a National Park Reserve of Canada and a National Park of Canada in the Torngat Mountains were signed in January 2005.
The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement was signed by the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA), and the governments of Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador on January 22, 2005 and came into effect on December 1, 2005.
More about the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement
The Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement is a comprehensive agreement that constitutes a final settlement of the Aboriginal rights of the Labrador Inuit in Canada. It is a modern treaty – the first comprehensive land claims agreement in Atlantic Canada – that provides the Labrador Inuit with clearly defined land, resources and self-government rights. The vast area of self-government that has been created in northern Labrador as a result of the agreement is called Nunatsiavut.
Settlement of the LIA’s land claim will contribute to the self-sufficiency and the economic, social, cultural and political development of the Labrador Inuit. On the same day the LIA and the federal and provincial governments signed the land claims agreement, they also signed two other documents that set the stage for the establishment of the park, namely, the Memorandum of Agreement for a National Park Reserve in the Torngat Mountains and the Park Impacts and Benefits Agreement (PIBA).
The Memorandum sets out the terms and conditions by which the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador agreed to transfer to Canada the administration and control of lands set aside for the park. The PIBA formalizes the ongoing relationship between Parks Canada and the Labrador Inuit.
The PIBA ensures that the national park reserve will highlight Labrador Inuit’s unique relationship with the land and ecosystems, and includes provisions that allow Inuit to continue traditional activities such as land and resource uses. It also establishes a framework for the co-operative management of the park reserve.
From a Reserve to a Park
Inuit visiting their childhood homes in Nachvak © Parks Canada / Heiko Wittenborn
A national park reserve is quite like a national park. Both operate in the same way in that the Canada National Parks Act applies within their boundaries. The difference is that a reserve remains subject to an outstanding land claim by a group of Aboriginal people.
Both Labrador Inuit and Nunavik Inuit (from northern Quebec) have traditionally used the lands and waters of the Torngat Mountains. The Nunavik Inuit filed a claim to northern Labrador that was accepted for negotiation, by Canada only, in 1993. Because they had been excluded from park consultations, the Nunavik Inuit, represented by Makivik Corporation, launched a challenge to the park establishment process in the Federal Court of Canada in 1997.
This challenge was heard in Federal Court. In 1998, the court ordered that Canada had a duty to consult with Makivik Corporation prior to establishing a national park reserve in northern Labrador and that it would remain a reserve until resolution of a land claims agreement with Makivik.
In 2005, Makivik Corporation and the Labrador Inuit Association signed the Agreement Relating to the Nunavik Inuit/Labrador Inuit Overlap Area which sets out the mutual commitment of both parties to share equally in the resources, benefits and management of the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve.
Signing of this Overlap Agreement allowed negotiations to commence between Parks Canada and Makivik Corportion for the Nunavik Inuit Park Impacts and Benefits Agreement for the Torngat Mountains National Park of Canada which was signed on December 1, 2006.
Upon the coming into effect of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement on July 10 2008, the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve became Torngat Mountains National Park.
Co-operative Management: A Defining Feature
Inuit point out traditional walking routes © Parks Canada / Heiko Wittenborn
The story of the creation of this national park includes lessons learned about the importance of working with Inuit as equal partners, and about achieving mutual respect and trust.
One of the most important details in the Park Impact and Benefit Agreements (PIBA) with the Labrador Inuit and Nunavik Inuit is the commitment that the national park will be established, operated and managed through a co-operative management regime that recognizes Inuit as partners.
There will be a seven-member co-operative management board established to advise the federal Minister of Environment on all matter related to park management . Parks Canada, Makivik Corporation and the Nunatsiavut Government will each appoint two members and there will be an independent chair jointly appointed by all three parties. Recognizing and honouring Inuit knowledge and the special historical and cultural relationship between Inuit and the land, is already a part of the living legacy of this national park.
Inuit guide © Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone
For the Record
“… for relationships between Aboriginal groups, corporate interests and governments to work, they have to be real and meaningful. They have to be allowed to develop over time. Agendas cannot be rushed, and no one agenda must dominate others. This park will be a lasting legacy for Canadians. And it is a testament to ... a relationship based on mutual respect, willingness to listen, and patience.”
William Andersen III, President, Labrador Inuit Association.
Keynote Address to Redefining Relationships: Learning from a Decade of Land Claims Implementation Conference , Ottawa. November 13, 2003.
“The park will help us protect our land and our memories and our stories. I want to go back to my homeland. Maybe I can go back and help tell our stories to the visitors.”
John Jararuse, Inuk from Saglek, Labrador.
“The Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve is the Inuit gift to the people of Canada."
Toby Andersen, Chief Negotiator, Labrador Inuit Association.
Address to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development , Ottawa. June 9, 2005.
“I recognize the photograph on the cover of your newsletter. I was born there. Many have died there. I will never be able to go back there, but that is where my dreams are.”
Nunavik Inuit Resident of Kangiqsualuijjuaq, Quebec, at a public meeting with Parks Canada, October 8, 1996
“This place of rugged beauty, sweeping wild coastlines and jagged peaks rising sharply from frigid seas. Encompassing mystic fjords, gentle river valleys, precipitous river falls and icebergs. With polar bears roaming the coast and caribou ranging through the homeland of the Inuit, just as it has been for thousands of years. Hundreds of archaeological sites stand witness to that extraordinary heritage. It is no wonder that the Inuit call Labrador, ‘Nunatsiavut - Our Beautiful Land .”
The Honourable Stephane Dion, at the signing of the park establishment agreement.
Research and Monitoring in Torngat Mountains National Park
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