Progress Report on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Panel on the Ecological Integrity of Canada's National Parks

Additional Actions

The Chief Executive Officer was requested to elaborate a clear interpretation strategy to communicate with urban residents and with young Canadians.

kids@parks

Geared to school children from kindergarten to Grade 8, kids@parks programs offer fun, interactive opportunities for learning, whether in the park, at the site or in the classroom. This national education program was launched by the Canadian Parks Partnership in spring 2000, and strives to inspire Canadian children to become the next generation of heritage stewards of Canada's parks, historic sites and waterways. In the first year, approximately $100,000 were raised and provided to cooperating associations across Canada.

Classrooms across the country will have access to the educational programs and materials offered through the kids@parks programs, helping to overcome limited access to parks and sites. kids@parks will increase young Canadians' understanding of the values of Canada's most precious natural and cultural resources, and of our Canadian identity.

Source: Canadian Parks Partnership Biennial Report 1998-2000

Progress to Date

  • The interpretation, education and outreach initiatives of Parks Canada constitute one of the most highly valued programs offered by the Agency. The more Canadians from all walks of life know about national parks, the more effectively they can support the Parks Canada mandate. Increased awareness leads to knowledge and understanding, which in turn leads to support for preservation and presentation of Canadian heritage. Reaching out to Canadians is the priority for heritage presentation.
  • In the short term:
    • Existing on-site programs will be sustained and support will continue to be offered to a wide variety of cooperating associations, volunteers and businesses to extend the reach of the Agency and to raise awareness of the values of national parks. A modest extension of outreach programs will occur.
    • Parks Canada will continue to improve its website, augmenting the amount and depth of education materials.
    • Efforts will continue to integrate Parks Canada messages into school curricula across the country. Work is under way now with curriculum developers in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
    • An Outreach Innovation Fund has been established in Parks Canada to encourage the development of fresh new approaches to reaching out to the Canadian public with public education programming. Ten new projects have been launched.
    • Television series will continue to be used where opportunities exist.
    • The longer term objectives will build upon this base and will include the following elements.
      • To more effectively reach out to urban, youth and ethno-cultural minority audiences, a series of urban interpretation centres will be developed across Canada. Parks Canada will initiate the development of a network of discovery centres, some in urban centres such as the Canada Discovery Centre for marine conservation in Hamilton, and others in existing Parks Canada facilities. Interpretation centres in existing parks and sites will be redeveloped using this model when recapitalization is required.
      • Parks Canada will seek to access general federal funding in support of connecting Canadians through the electronic highway. Priorities will include building a virtual journey of Canada's heritage places, providing access to Canadian content through digitization of original research material, and providing access to Canadian youth to educational materials and journeys of discovery.
      • Five percent of the Agency's budget will be dedicated to communicating, educating and interpreting places administered by Parks Canada.

      Next Steps

      • Additional funds are being sought both for improving interpretation programs within the national parks, and for reaching out to Canadians who may not have the means or opportunity to visit the parks.

      Children Experience Wonders of National Park

      "Parks and People Association and Young Canada Works in Canada's national parks and national historic sites have teamed up to provide children between the ages of five and ten with a free nature camp. This stewardship-focused afternoon camp allows kids to explore the natural features of the P.E.I. National Park. Local and visiting children discover dune formation and erosion and learn more about the piping plover, an endangered species that nests throughout the national park."

      From The Guardian (Charlottetown), July 20, 2000