Parks Canada’s Aboriginal Consultative Committee
Parks Canada continues to expand its partnerships with Aboriginal people. This is reflected in joint efforts to create new national parks and national marine conservation areas, commemorating Aboriginal cultures and histories in national historic sites, developing emerging partnership activities at parks and sites and increasing Aboriginal employment within the Agency.
During a national round table in 2001, a recommendation encouraging the advancement of partnerships supported the establishment of an advisory structure to help advance areas of mutual interests. This was the impetus to set up Parks Canada’s Aboriginal Consultative Committee (ACC).
Since then, Parks Canada welcomes the support and collaboration from the Aboriginal communities and encourages the establishment of advisory relationships in parks and sites across the organization. These relationships are guided by the unique legal and cultural contexts of the different Aboriginal groups.
Members of the Aboriginal Consultative Committee during a visit to Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada.© Parks Canada
First row: Reg Sylliboy (AAS). Second row, L-R: Dwayne Blackbird (Kseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, Manitoba), Chief Vern Jacks (Tseycum First Nation, British Columbia), Nathalie Gagnon (AAS), Elder Stewart King (Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario), Michel Boivin (Director, Quebec Service Centre), Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho (Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit, Quebec), Chief Diane Strand (Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, Yukon), Alan Latourelle (CEO), Rita Mestokosho (Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit, Quebec), Peter Rudyck (Métis nation, Saskatchewan), Pam Ward (Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq First Nation, New Brunswick), Cristina Martinez (Field Unit Superintendent, Mingan Archipelago NPR, Quebec)
Mandate of the Aboriginal Consultative Committee
The ACC meets three times a year to advance respective interests and provide expert advice directly to the CEO regarding a range of activities that Parks Canada should consider. This includes:
- Advice with regard to best practices in consultation with Aboriginal peoples;
- Advice with regards to the five priorities of the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat;
- Feedback throughout the consultation process;
- Identifying traditions, spiritual and ceremonial issues that are of key importance to Aboriginal peoples across Canada;
- Identifying what are traditional renewable resource harvesting activities and how they might be managed;
- Advice with regards to how Aboriginal Knowledge could be used in managing parks, sites and marine conservation areas;
- Identifying mechanisms to advance the presentation of Aboriginal histories and cultures by Aboriginal peoples within national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas;
- Identifying viable opportunities to advance education, training, and employment of Aboriginal peoples in relation to the management of parks, sites, areas, and their related tourism offerings, and;
- Any emerging topics as they become required.
Why it works!
The success of the ACC’s ability to provide valuable advice to the CEO is based on the following factors:
- Quality of frank debate and discussion built on trust;
- Value of the CEO being regularly engaged in holistic Aboriginal world views;
- Recognition that institutional relationships are built on forging and maintaining personal relationships.
- Elder Component;
- Geographic representation;
- Appropriate representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis;
- Aboriginal expertise in terms of consultations and traditional, spiritual, and ceremonial activities;
- Knowledge and/or experience with national parks, national historic sites or national marine conservation areas.
Meet the Current ACC Members
© Parks Canada
Richard Binder and his twin Ron are the first surviving Inuvialuit twins and were born on Richard's Island in the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories (NWT) at a summer Reindeer Herding camp during a snowstorm on July 20th, 1948.
He worked as a Game Warden for the Government of the NWT, as a Land Use Inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs and North Development, as a Community Liaison Officer and Employee Relations and Socio-economic Advisor for Imperial Oil (ESSO). In the late 80's, he worked for the Inuvialuit (Inuit of the Western Arctic) as the Resource Person and Secretary for the Inuvialuit Game Council (IGC). He also served as President of the local Inuvik Hunters and Trappers Committee (HTC) and the Inuvik Director on the IGC. He served as the IGC appointed Member to the Environmental Impact Review Board and a number of other multi-government committees and participated in many National and International gatherings such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). He currently works for the Inuvialuit in the Community Support Unit at the Joint Secretariat office in Inuvik.
He still finds time to take his family to the coast to their whaling camp for the month of July. He plans to build another permanent camp in the Delta, within the tree line, that he and his family could access year round by river, ice road or overland in the winter.
© Parks Canada
Dwayne is a member of the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, and a great-great grandson of Chief Mekis who signed Treaty 2 on behalf of the Riding Mountain Band in 1871.
He has been politically active in his community all of his adult life; first, as a community member, band councillor from 1987 to 1996, and then as Chief from 1996 to 2003. Dwayne brings with him a wealth of practical leadership experience and extensive knowledge of the issues and concerns facing First Nations Peoples today. Dwayne is signatory to the Senior Official’s Forum signed in 1998 with Parks Canada.
Dwayne is currently involved with the Coalition of First Nations with Interest in Riding Mountain National Park. This is a group of First Nations who share in the park management planning and participates in establishing a good working relationship with Parks Canada.
© Parks Canada
Leena Evic is the founder, Vision Keeper and Executive Director for Pirurvik Centre. Pirurvik, based in Iqaluit, offers a range of specialized services, programs and productions grounded in the Inuktitut language and the Inuit way of life. Pirurvik’s activities are focused on three core concepts: learning what has come before, teaching what is here today and developing the future vitality of Inuit culture and the Inuktitut language.
Born and raised on the land, Leena has pursued life interests emphasizing education, culture, language and healing. In addition to an educational career as a teacher, principal and curriculum developer, she has worked as the Director of Social Cultural and Educational Development for Nunavut Tunngavik, Inc as well as being the Director of Policy for the Government of Nunavut's Department of Justice. Leena has also been a private consultant, owner and operater of a retail clothing store and a partner in the successful “Tatigiit Development Group”.
Chief Vern Jacks
© Parks Canada
Chief Vern Jack’s ancestral name is X Á L Á X E. This name has been passed down from his grandmother’s great-grandfather and is currently shared with his eldest grandson. For the past 20 years, he is the elected Chief of Tseycum First Nation, North Saanich, British Columbia.
Raised by his grandmother, his life was enriched by receiving the sacred grass roots teachings of his people and he was fortunate to be able to speak the SENĆOŦEN language for the first six years of his life. His grandmother taught him the history of his people, language and the art of harvesting traditional seafood and medicine. She was a strong believer in doing what is right for their people and instilled these values upon him as a child. He continues to work in the best interest of the people of Tseycum First Nation and one such aspect is protecting their history. This includes protecting archaeological sites, negotiating with all levels of government to educate on their history and rights and to ensure that the people of his village gain equal opportunity in employment and education.
Chief Mi’sel Joe
© Parks Canada
Saqamaw Mi’sel Joe is the chief of the Miawpukek Mi'kamawey Mawi'omi - Conne River Mi’kmaq Tribal Nation in Newfoundland. The Miawpukek Band Reserve, the only one recognized in Newfoundland, is located on the southeast shore of Newfoundland. The reserve covers an area of some 14 square miles and has a population of approximately 700 people.
Saqamaw Mi’sel Joe was born in Miawpukek on June 4, 1947; both his grandfather and uncle have held the office of hereditary Saqamaw. He has been educated in all the Mi’kmaq ways and traditions. He is also the spiritual leader of his people. In this capacity he has gained recognition provincially, nationally and internationally, particularly in the area of spiritual healing. He lives together with his wife Colletta and granddaughter Ansalewit at Miawpukek First Nation in Newfoundland.
© Parks Canada
A grandfather of eleven and father to four grown children, Stewart King (Zhengos) was born in the Wasauksing First Nation at a time when there was no electricity available to most reserve homes. Anishinaabemowin is his first language and is still currently used today.
Stewart King, of the Eagle Clan, is an Elder and Spiritual Leader within the Potawatomi Nation of both Canadian and USA sides of the border. In the early 1990’s he was part of a group instrumental in the unification of the eight scattered bands of the Potawatomi Nation that had been forcibly relocated by the US government in the 1830’s. Today this is the only North American Tribe that gathers annually to share and celebrate in culture and history. He has lobbied successfully in the US Senate, House of Representatives and US Court of Federal Claims for the annuity claim bought on by the Canadian contingent of the Potawatomi Nation. He has been actively involved in the repatriation of artefacts and human remains with the US museums under the NAGPRA program.
After twenty-seven years of working in business in Toronto he returned to Wasauksing in 1981 and formed his own venture in commercial glazing until 1995. A tribal teacher of language, culture and history he is active in tribal ceremonies and youth counselling. He has written a number of articles that have been published by native circulations and is currently involved in research projects related to native history and the language.
© Parks Canada
Rita Mestokosho was born on the Innu territory (the word Innu means "human being"). Rita has two children, a son named Mishta Napeu (which means "Big Man"); and a daughter named Uapukun (which means "Flower"). Rita likes to travel, and has inherited the nomadic spirit of the Innu, a nation of caribou hunters whose survival has depended on navigational skills and the ability to walk long distances. She has studied in Montreal, Quebec City and Chicoutimi, and has a special interest in the field of education.
She believes that exchanging ideas helps strengthen the spirit of sharing and generosity that characterizes First Nations people. As a poet she has travelled extensively through South America (i.e. French Guyana, Colombia, Peru and Mexico), to Australia, France, Italy and Spain. During her travels, Rita has been invited as a lecturer to share and teach Innu culture, help protect our mother the earth.
Today Rita works in Ekuanishit ("place where there are mountains"). Since 1998 she has been the cultural coordinator of her community and a policy advisor in the fields of culture, education, women’s and children’s issues. She also plays an instrumental role in economic development and in helping to plan and build a Cultural Centre that respects and reflects Innu values.
© Parks Canada
A Dene Suline and member of the Smith’s Landing Treaty 8 First Nation, Francois Paulette survived the residential school system before going on to become the youngest Chief in the NWT Indian Brotherhood in 1971. Over the next decade, he served as Chief in his own community and as the Vice-Chief of the Dene Nation. In 1972, along with 16 other Chiefs from the Mackenzie Valley, he challenged the Crown to recognize Treaty and Aboriginal rights and title to over 450 000 square miles of land in the historic Paulette case. He was also an outspoken advocate of Treaty and Aboriginal rights during the Berger Inquiry into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline and in appearances before the National Energy Board.
As Chief Negotiator for the Smith’s Landing First Nation, Francois worked diligently to conclude a Treaty Land Entitlement final Settlement Agreement in 2000, drawing on his negotiation skills training from the Harvard and Banff Schools of Management. He has since served as a consultant and negotiator for other Dene First Nations.
Francois takes pride in maintaining his Dene language and traditional knowledge and his close ties with the land. He was a founding member and Chairman of the Dene Cultural Institute in 1986. He is a certified Addictions Counsellor through the Nechi Institute and a past board member of the NWT Mental Health Association. Francois has also worked as a cross-cultural trainer and facilitator for more than 20 years, and has collaborated on a number of Canadian and international documentary films.
© Parks Canada
Peter Rudyck was born and raised in the Batoche-Duck Lake area of Saskatchewan and is of Métis Ancestry. His direct ancestries, great grandfathers, were involved in the resistance at Batoche in May of 1885.
Peter has more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry, traveling across Canada. As horses were always a major part of his life, in 1990 he decided to change careers so that he could be closer to his home, wife, and children. Peter purchased land and is now the proud owner of a Ranch with support of his son.
Over the years, Peter has been a part of and sat on many Boards, locally and nationally, as a member and/or Chairperson. He was elected 2 terms as a Regional Director for the Métis Nation Saskatchewan. He still remains an active member within the community and is still part of certain boards and councils. Lately, Peter has had an instrumental role in the promotion of Batoche National Historic Site of Canada.
© Parks Canada
Diane Strand is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN). A granddaughter of well-known Yukon Elder, the late Mrs. Annie Ned, Diane belongs to the Crow Clan of the Southern Tutchone people. She has a background in Business Administration from Yukon College and had been employed with her First Nation during the signing of its Land Claim Agreement (modern Treaty). In 1993 Champagne and Aishihik was one of the first four Yukon First Nations to settle its Land Claim.
She left her position of 10 years as Heritage Resource Officer to become the first female Chief of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in the fall of 2006. Currently she is on a year sabbatical, travelling different parts of the world learning about and experiencing various cultures.
Through both work and volunteer activities, Diane is involved in many heritage related initiatives, including traditional dance and song; CAFN culture camps for youth, held at various times in the year; a leader at the potlatch table; and community genealogy studies.
Diane currently lives in Haines Junction, and is the mother of two children.
© Parks Canada
Jack George Thompson was born in 1947 and raised in Whyak, British Columbia, until he was placed in the Residential School system from 1954-1965. After leaving the Residential School, Jack took a Welding Course and worked in the logging industry as a welder for more than 20 years.
He was elected into council in 1985 as the chief councillor and is still in that position today. He was appointed as Chief Negotiator for the Ditidaht Nation to negotiate a Treaty. Today, the nation is still in the process of negotiating a Treaty for their people. The membership of the Ditidaht Nation consists of approx.700 members; two thirds reside in urban or other communities.
He successfully negotiated a Timber Agreement with Parks Canada in 1991 and brought two other Tribes to form a working relationship with Parks Canada to maintain the existing trails within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada.
© Parks Canada
Pam Ward, a Mi’kmaq from the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation and mother of two is currently employed as the Provincial Aboriginal Education Coordinator for the Community College of New Brunswick. Prior to this Pam worked in her community as an economic development officer and Project Manager for a multi-million dollar cultural tourism initiative – The Metepenagiag Heritage Park. The Park highlights over 3000 years of Mi’kmaq heritage and history, commemorating two of the most significant archaeological discoveries in North America: The Augustine Mound and the Oxbow National Historic Sites, the longest continuously inhabited village in New Brunswick.
Over the past 17 years, Ms. Ward worked with New Brunswick First Nations and Aboriginal organizations in various areas of community development, culture, health, youth, land claims research, employment and training, counselling and program development. She was the first elected woman to serve her community on Band Council.
She worked for Parks Canada as Manager of Aboriginal Affairs and for the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat as an Economic Development Policy Analyst. She is active in several local associations and committees. She serves as a Board Member of Aboriginal Tourism Canada and attended the Parks Canada Roundtable on Aboriginal Tourism in 2001.