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A National Park Proposal on Bathurst Island

Introduction - Protecting part of the Western High Arctic

A pair of Peary caribou look out over the tundra landscape.

Bathurst Island is home to the endangered Peary caribou.

"It was early September 1953 when we were deposited at what is now the community of Resolute. It was cold and dark compared to our home in Hudson Bay. We had no idea how we would survive. We did not know what animals were there. Somehow we made it through our first winter living on seal and polar bear. We desperately missed caribou meat. In March of the second winter, 5 or 6 hunters managed to get the equipment to travel to Bathurst Island. Our escort family from Pond Inlet told us there might be caribou and how to get there. The hunters came back in about a week carrying 8 caribou! I was a child then, but remember how great it tasted and how excited the adults were. Ever since we called it "the place where you hunt caribou". Those caribou saved our lives in more ways than one. Now it is our turn to protect them."
Resolute Community Elder, 2010

Parks Canada, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA) and the community of Resolute Bay are working together to create a new national park on Bathurst Island in Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. After a local contest, the name of the proposed national park was selected as Qausuittuq National Park. Qausuittuq means “place where the sun doesn't rise” in Inuktitut, in reference to the fact that the sun stays below the horizon for several months in the winter at this latitude.

Imagine a cluster of islands in a frozen sea, a harsh but pristine arctic wilderness, the former home of the North magnetic Pole, a land on the edge of past human occupation, a home for the endangered Peary caribou, a traditional hunting and fishing area that has sustained the residents of the tiny community of Resolute Bay since the time of their relocation from northern Quebec in the 1950’s; Bathurst Island is all of that and more.

Map of the feasibility study area for the proposed national park in English The proposed boundary for Qausuittuq National Park
© Parks Canada

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This land of extremes has been chosen to represent the Western High Arctic Natural Region, as identified in Parks Canada’s National Parks System Plan. The proposed national park will help protect a piece of the area’s natural and cultural heritage as well as provide permanent protection for the endangered Peary caribou and other wildlife. The park will be managed in cooperation with Inuit for the benefit, education and enjoyment of all Canadians. It is expected that the park’s establishment will enhance and support local employment and business as well as help strengthen the local and regional economies.

Use of wildlife by Inuit has been an integral part of Bathurst Island’s functioning ecosystem for centuries and Inuit will have the right to continue their subsistence harvesting activities within the park.

The proposed national park and neighbouring Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area, an existing protected area managed by the Canadian Wildlife Service and located directly to the south of the proposed park, will together ensure protection of most of the northern half of Bathurst Island as well as protection of a number of smaller nearby islands. The proposed park will be the fourth created within the Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin) Region of Nunavut with the collaboration and support of Inuit. It will join such celebrated national parks as Quttinirpaaq, Sirmilik and Auyuittuq as well as a future national marine conservation area which is proposed for Lancaster Sound southeast of Bathurst Island.

Negotiations with Inuit regarding the establishment of the park began in spring 2010 and are ongoing. To learn more about the establishment of this new national park go to "Background" and "What’s Happening".

View from an aircraft window looks out across partially ice-covered ocean waters towards a rocky headland on Bathurst Island. In addition to protecting natural and cultural heritage, a new national park on Bathurst Island would be managed for the enjoyment and education of visitors.
© Parks Canada