Parks Canada's leadership in the management of protected heritage areas aims at promoting sound principles of stewardship and citizen awareness, and ecological and commemorative integrity. This is done by:

  • adhering to international conventions such as the World Heritage Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  • responsibly managing a system of national heritage areas and programs (e.g., national parks, national historic sites, historic canals, heritage rivers and heritage railway stations);
  • providing opportunities for the public to get involved; and
  • working with others to support heritage areas.

Parks Canada envisions having a stronger leadership role in protecting and presenting heritage areas well into the next century. This role will have two key components: a broad definition of protected heritage, and a view of leadership that encompasses more than ownership. It is recognized that national historic sites and national parks are but one component of the Canadian network of heritage areas.

Leadership by example means managing areas of national significance. But it also means helping and cooperating with others to protect and present heritage - for example, through providing technical advice and national standards, and fostering and advocating heritage protection and presentation, both nationally and internationally.

Stewardship of heritage areas is a shared responsibility. Canadian citizens must be more aware and involved in decision-making and in the delivery of heritage programs.

The future integrity of Canada's existing and proposed natural and cultural heritage areas will continue to be a priority for Parks Canada. With increasing challenges to and demands on Canada's heritage areas, it is important not only to develop a strategic policy to ensure the perpetuity of these special places, but also to clearly articulate Parks Canada's leadership role in working with Canadians to support these areas. The public will increasingly share in this responsibility. This will lead to a broader range of heritage areas and programs. This policy document will guide these efforts and the designation and management of special places into the next century.