Share your ideas for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site!

Transcript

Pjila’si… Bienvenue… Welcome to Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site

located in Rocky Point, Prince Edward Island.

Parks Canada is proud to be a steward of this important historic place

and we’re looking for your input and ideas to help shape its future.

This place has many important stories to tell us.

“My first time when I arrived here, when we built the wigwam,

I felt a lot of presence of my ancestors here, and the stories of them making their wigwams here,

in between here and Rocky Point.”

This area of Epekwitk, as Prince Edward Island is known

in the Mi’kmaq language,

has long been an important part of Mi’kma’ki,

the traditional and unceded Mi’kmaq territory.

In 1720, the French established the first European

settlement on the Island here.

Called Port-la-Joye, it was the capital of the colony

colony of Ile St Jean. From 1726

through the 1740s, Mi'kmaq and French leaders met here, nearly every year,

for meetings and ceremonies to renew

and strengthen their alliance

and friendship.

“Port-la-Joye is important because it represents, on the one hand, the colonization of the island,

and the arrival of the French and Acadians to Prince Edward Island.

One of the biggest and most well-known families on the island are the Gallants.

Their ancestor, Michel Hache dit Gallant was the first colonist to settle in Port-la-Joye,

so as a result, this place is very important for Acadian history.”

This was the site of battles in the vast French-British struggle for dominance

in North America. Immediately following British take-over,

a dozen ships departed from this site carrying the majority of the French and

Acadian inhabitants living on the Island into exile in the tragic

deportation of 1758.

Renamed Fort Amherst, this property saw the beginnings of British systems of laws

and settlement which helped shape the future of Prince Edward Island.

“Looking at Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst, it’s a site with a lot of history. It’s got very sad moments,

very happy moments, and important transitional moments as we move from one period to another period,

and I think we want to retain familiarity with all of that history, the good as well

as the bad, so that we can learn from it.

Today, Skmaqn--Port-la-Joye--Fort Amherst offers superb views

of the surrounding countryside and Charlottetown Harbour.

Visitors can walk the trails,

enjoy a picnic,

and take in the history of the site.

When you look over the green, sloping grounds toward the harbour, you can still see remnants of the land’s dramatic past.

Parks Canada is working closely

with Mi’kmaq partners as well as

Acadian and British cultural stakeholders

to capture the complexity and importance

of this historic location.

We have begun work on a management plan to guide our actions over the next 10 years

and we want to hear from you. This is the chance for everyone to

share their ideas for

Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site.

What activities or events bring you to the

or would bring you more often?

What is your connection to this place?

What opportunities can you identify to make the

site a better-known place? Express your interest, share your ideas,

and ask your questions - take a moment and visit us online or contact us by email.

We are listening!

An invitation to take part!

Parks Canada is reviewing the management plan for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site (NHS). This is important as the management plan will guide decisions and actions in protecting, presenting and operating the site for the next 10 years.

Strong management plans are prepared in consultation with stakeholders who care about and are invested in the site. The purpose of consultations is to give Indigenous communities, the public, the municipality, partners, and other stakeholders an opportunity to get involved in guiding the decision-making process for the management of a national historic site. Consultations also generate bold new ideas to help make the site more engaging and meaningful to those who visit.

To this end, we will be holding consultations during fall 2020 to collect our valued stakeholders’ input. We encourage you to take part in this process by sharing your perspectives, ideas and suggestions for the site.

The Planning and Consultation Process

Management plans are developed through meaningful consultation with key stakeholders, are approved by the CEO and Minister responsible for Parks Canada and are tabled in Parliament. A management plan is a key instrument for ensuring that Parks Canada delivers on its commitments to the people of Canada.

A draft management plan for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site has been prepared by Parks Canada based on initial feedback received from representatives of the Mi’kmaq First Nations as well as Acadian and British cultural stakeholders. 

We invite you to:

  • Read below for an overview of the draft management plan or to read the full draft management plan. 
  • Next, reflect on your own experiences at Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site and share your feedback on this draft plan
  • Respond to our online comment card. This is the simplest and most direct way for you to provide your input to the planning process. 
  • Alternatively, you can share your views and ideas and help guide the future direction of the site by emailing us at pc.skmaqn.pc@canada.ca or writing us at “Public Consultations – SPLJFA NHS, Parks Canada Agency, 2 Palmers Lane, Charlottetown, PE C1A 5V8”.

Stakeholder feedback will be received, reviewed and incorporated, where possible, into the draft management plan. While Parks Canada may not be able to incorporate all suggestions and detail into this strategic management plan, your ideas and comments will be heard and will help inform decision making and future forward operations of the site. 

For more information on Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site, please visit: Culture and history.

Read on for an overview of the draft management plan’s future vision and key strategies for the site.

Future vision for the site

Read more

A vision statement expresses an inspiring and evocative yet achievable description of the desired future state of a place. The vision for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site  in 10 to 15 years’ time is for the site to remain a beautiful, park-like space that honours the stories of the different cultures involved in the site’s history: Mi’kmaq, French, Acadian, and British.

Continuing its role as a gateway and a gathering place, the site is alive with history. Everything about the site speaks to its storied past – from the views offered by the grounds themselves, to the curious remains of the British fort, to the insightful and evocative site interpretation. Each element invites the visitor to take a look at some aspect of history, culture, or nature. The grounds and facilities serve as an inviting setting for a variety of cultural and community events, and a welcome venue for third-party activities.

Time spent at Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst is an experience that engages the senses and inspires the mind. Visitors take in its spectacular harbour vistas, enjoy scenic trails through peaceful landscapes, and absorb the sounds and smells of the grass, trees and the ocean breeze. A visit to the site invites contemplation of its complicated history. 

Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst  has a unique placement within the greater network of historic sites with an extensive reach that showcases how the events that took place here have meaning and significance locally, regionally, and globally. Stories are shared that reflect a variety of themes, from individual and family histories of life at the site in the 1700s, to connections to the broader history of Acadia and Canada, and also to the ongoing experiences of new arrivals everywhere, as global migration and settlement continue to evolve.

Learning about the storied human history of Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst doesn’t stop at the site’s borders. A colourful and informative website, engaging social media presence, and information shared through partners and related historic sites ensure that voices from Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst can be heard in places near and far. Bringing this information to light heightens awareness of Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst and the site’s role in the settlement of Prince Edward Island and Canada. This, in turn, gives Island residents and Canadians a closer connection to the site and a greater understanding of the significance of Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst.  

Parks Canada will maintain an open dialogue on the implementation of the management plan, to ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful. The plan will serve as the focus for ongoing engagement on the management of the site in years to come.

Draft Management Plan Strategies

Read more

During the initial phases of planning for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst, the key issues that were identified included (in no order of priority):

  • Maintaining the condition of the Fort Amherst earthworks
  • Maintaining the views of the harbour
  • Improving the consistency of the offer in terms of staff presence
  • Increasing awareness and visitation
  • Strengthening the involvement of cultural groups, including Mi’kmaq and Acadian partners
  • Maximizing the use of the visitor reception centre and other facilities on the grounds for special events.

Considering the quality and significance of the many stories rooted at Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst, the site could enjoy a more prominent public profile.

In the draft management plan, three key strategies were developed to guide management of the site for the next decade. These strategies are expressed through a number of objectives: measurable outcomes for the site to be realized in order to achieve the vision. An overall theme of the plan is “working together”, as the vision, voices, and resources of partners and stakeholders will be important to defining the specific activities that take place at the site.

Key Strategy 1: Working Together to Increase Awareness 

A focus of this strategy, and indeed implementation of this management plan, is continued collaboration with key partners and stakeholders. As a gathering place for specific cultural groups, including Mi’kmaq, French, Acadian and British, the vibrancy of the site depends on the active involvement of partners and stakeholders, both on-site and off-site. In addition to cultural groups, Parks Canada and the site will work with other key stakeholders involved with tourism, nature appreciation, outdoor recreation, and education.

This strategy seeks to raise awareness of the site among target audiences, build support among local and regional residents, and draw additional visitors to the site. Based on visitors’ feedback, efforts will be made to improve pre-trip information and road signage for finding the site. A new method for calculating visitation based on vehicle counts was started in 2019.

This strategy aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • 1.1 Efforts to promote Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst off-site have increased (i.e. number of off-site outreach or promotional events where the site is promoted has increased, availability of outreach or promotional products to promote the site has increased, number of third parties engaged with the site has increased), and
  • 1.2 Visitation to the site has increased (i.e. measurable percentage increase in visitation, revenue generating tours to the site have increased).

Key Strategy 2: Working Together to Enhance Visitor Experience 

Continued and expanded collaboration with key partners and stakeholders is also a focus of this strategy. As a strategic location and a gathering place where different cultures became allies, established roots, or met in armed conflict, there are different perspectives to be shared on events that took place at the site.

This strategy continues discussions related to the addition of the Mi’kmaq name in 2018 and seeks to strengthen the connection that cultural groups have to the site, as well as the collaboration among cultural groups. This strategy ensures that partners have ample opportunities to share their perspectives on the site’s complex human history. It also builds on previous special events, to identify a wide range of opportunities that could be explored with partners.

Overall, visitor feedback indicates a high level of satisfaction and learning from visits to the site. Some have expressed interest in the addition of family activities, and many have appreciated Mi’kmaq programming. As collaboration with partners and stakeholders identifies opportunities to enhance programming related to the site, consideration will be given to meeting the needs of target audiences as well as a wide range of social identities, abilities and interests.

This strategy aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • 2.1 The site’s stories are shared from multiple perspectives (i.e. representatives from key stakeholder communities continue to collaborate with Parks Canada and work to create high quality engaging experiences, interpretive materials are renewed and enhanced),
  • 2.2 Opportunities to connect with Mi’kmaq culture have increased (i.e. expanded content that shares Mi’kmaq history and culture, site as integral part of region’s Indigenous tourism offer, number of visitors who participate in Mi’kmaq programming at the site is increased), and
  • 2.3 The number of special events offered or hosted at the site has increased (i.e. number of community or cultural events has increased, third-party rental events at the site continue).

Key Strategy 3: Working Together to Protect a Cultural Landscape

The essence of the site is its open landscape and strategic location: the overlap of geography, human nature and history. This strategy includes protecting the landscape itself, as well as the cultural resources related to the site. Ensuring the commemorative integrity of the site includes: protecting the land, including its cultural significance to Mi’kmaq people; protecting key cultural resources such as the remnant earthworks of Fort Amherst and below-ground artifacts throughout the site; maintaining the condition of other cultural resources, such as Newson House; and, maintaining the feel of the site’s open grasslands and pockets of forest cover, with views to the harbour entrance. Visitor feedback indicates that enjoyment of the scenery is a significant reason why visitors come to the site.

Monitoring programs and promoting compliance to visitors (for example, not to use metal detectors and not to disturb artifacts) will need to be maintained, especially as climate change could lead to increased storms and erosion. In addition to monitoring and protecting cultural resources, necessary monitoring of priority habitats and species will also be carried out at the site. These objectives for resource protection are also supported through collaboration with other levels of government, non-government organizations, and academic institutions, such as with the University of Prince Edward Island.

This strategy aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • 3.1 The good condition of cultural resources is maintained (i.e. earthworks of Fort Amherst are maintained, tree growth is managed, informed certainty around clearing of view planes to maintain the cultural landscape, Newson House maintained in good structural condition, collection of artifacts maintained in good condition), and
  • 3.2 The condition of the natural environment and scenic beauty of the landscape are maintained (i.e. open nature of rolling grasslands and harbour views are maintained, assessment and understanding of presence and use of suitable habitat for species-at-risk at site, understanding of potential impacts of climate change at the site improved).

What do you think? 

 Read more
The draft management plan summarizes and presents the site as well as the key strategies, objectives and targets to guide management of the site for the next decade. Now it’s your turn to take part in the planning process! This is your chance to add to the conversation and help us develop Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site’s management plan. Your knowledge of the area, your experience with the site, and the future you envision for it are important to us.

Share your views, opinions and suggestions on the future of this treasured place. We encourage you to respond to our online comment card.

Those who prefer may submit comments to pc.skmaqn.pc@canada.ca or send feedback by mail to:
Public Consultations – SPLJFA NHS
Parks Canada Agency
2 Palmers Lane
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 5V8

Please contact us at 902-672-6350 if you have any questions or would like further information on the consultation process.

Thank you for your cooperation!