Pituamkek is home to several ancient Mi’kmaq archaeological sites as well as sites of deep cultural and historical importance to the Mi’kmaq. Evidence discovered here shows long-standing Mi’kmaq use of the area, dating back thousands of years.

The area constitutes a vital living link between Mi’kmaq culture, its history and the environment. For this reason, the Mi’kmaq People of Prince Edward Island have a strong and enduring connection with the Pituamkek area and have designated the area as Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape.

The location known as Iron Rock is home to a rare geological feature: Prince Edward Island’s only igneous rock formation – a volcanic incursion which is more than 240 million years old.

The sand dunes of Pituamkek form one of the most ecologically significant coastal dune ecosystems in Eastern Canada. The islands stretch for 50 kilometres from east to west and form a protective barrier to the north of Malpeque and Cascumpec Bays, which are known around the world for their rich fisheries.

The area is also home to a number of threatened or endangered species. Some of these plant and animal species include the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat, the piping plover, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence aster.

The collaborative efforts of this establishment process by Parks Canada, L’nuey (the Mi’kmaq rights-based initiative), and Prince Edward Island demonstrates the parties’ commitment to working collaboratively on First Nations rights-based initiatives.

From both national and provincial perspectives, this is an area of high conservation value and it presents an excellent opportunity for the Mi’kmaq, federal and provincial governments to work together with the Island Nature Trust and Nature Conservancy of Canada toward a shared and important goal. This makes the Pituamkek area a strong candidate to contribute to Parks Canada’s representation and protection goals in a cooperative manner.

The goals of establishing a national park reserve are:
  • ensure First Nations’ communities are able to preserve and celebrate their ancestral and present connection to the land
  • blend science and traditional knowledge to protect and celebrate the diversity of flora, fauna and landscape features of the area
  • help provide First Nation’s communities with opportunities for visitor experiences and the presentation of natural and cultural heritage
  • work cooperatively with First Nations to protect the ecological integrity of wildlife habitat, plant species and marine life

About the region

Pituamkek (Hog Island Sandhills) is located along the northwestern shores of Prince Edward Island and forms a 50-kilometer-long protective barrier along PEI's northwestern shoreline. This island chain is also home to one of the most ecologically significant coastal dune ecosystems in Canada.

Pituamkek (Hog Island Sandhills) is home to multiple archaeological sites considered sacred to the Mi’kmaq People. Evidence discovered at the sites shows a long-standing use of the area by Mi’kmaq People, dating back thousands of years.

Pituamkek is also home to Prince Edward Island’s only igneous rock formation - estimated at over 200 million years old. The unique geology of the dune-forest landscape creates a highly distinctive environment found nowhere else in the province.

Surveys of area have revealed the presence of a number of threatened or endangered species. Some of these plant and animal species include the little brown bat, the northern long-eared Bat, the piping plover, the Gulf of St. Lawrence aster, and maritime beach pinweed.

The federal, provincial and Mi’kmaq governments believe Pituamkek (Hog Island Sandhills) offers significant potential for the establishment of a national park reserve. The Mi’kmaq People of Prince Edward Island brought forward this initiative and view a national park reserve as a unique opportunity for Parks Canada and the First Nations to work together to achieve conservation and economic objectives in this truly important Canadian landscape.

By establishing a national park reserve in Pituamkek, Parks Canada will ensure the protection and representation of this rare and threatened ecosystem. This space represents an area of significant ecological, geological and cultural importance deserving of protection for First Nations, Islanders, and Canadians – now and for future generations.


Creating protected areas

The Government of Canada is committed to expanding Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas and protecting the biodiversity of Canadian ecosystems. Through a network of parks, protected and conserved areas, and other effective area-based conservation measures, Canada has committed to conserving 25 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2025.

Maliaptmu’kw u’t kepme’k wesasi-klu’lk maqmikew
Preserving this important and beautiful place.

National parks and national park reserves represent the very best that Canada has to offer and tell stories of who we are, including the history, cultures, and contributions of First Nations Peoples.

The principal difference between a national park and a national park reserve is that the term “reserve” is used to recognize that there are unresolved claims of Aboriginal rights in the area. Prince Edward Island’s Mi’kmaq People can freely continue to participate in traditional land uses and spiritual activities, and will be deeply involved in the cooperative management of the area with Parks Canada.

Parks Canada will work with the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq, the Government of Prince Edward Island, communities, conservation groups, private businesses, fishermen, and tourism and municipal organizations to conserve and protect the natural and cultural heritage of this special place, and to see this national park reserve become a reality to conserve and enjoy for generations to come.


Climate change impacts

In addition to the geological, cultural and historical significance of Pituamkek (Hog Island Sandhills), this chain of barrier islands protects many Prince Edward Island communities from the wave and storm impacts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

As the effects of climate change continue, it is important to take protective measures to safeguard this significant and diverse region of coastal Prince Edward Island as a national park reserve. The Mi’kmaq People of Epekwitk believe the Hog Island Sandhills constitute a vital living link between Mi’kmaq culture, its history, and the environment. For this reason, the Mi’kmaq First Nations have a deep spiritual connection with the Sandhills and consider them to be a Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape.

In collaboration with the Mi’kmaq Community and academic institutions, Parks Canada will continue to conduct important research within our protected areas that contributes to our understanding of climate change.


Timeline
Find out where we are in the journey of creating a national park reserve in Pituamkek.


More information