As stewards of Prince Edward Island National Park, Parks Canada is passionate about the preservation of Canada’s ecosystems and the species that call them home. We educate others about areas and their sensitivities, monitor conditions and species numbers, track impacts of weather on flora and fauna, and cautiously intervene when necessary. As of late, climate change impact studies on these places has grown to be of the highest importance. The results so far are clear: the impacts are great. And growing.
We know our visitors care too. Canadians love their national parks and we know they want to see them go on indefinitely. It was in this caring devotion for Prince Edward Island National Park and the environment in general that the roots of this special project began. Parks Canada worked closely with PEI’s poet laureate, Julie Pellissier-Lush, a Knowledge Keeper from Lennox Island First Nation, to pull together Indigenous teachings and our own hopes for a healthier, more sustainable future into the words, images, and sounds that have become our Park Promise.
Now it’s your turn. Read the words. View the video and listen to the song. Learn the story behind it.
Park Promise | Prince Edward Island National Park
Listen to this slower version of the Park Promise song, perfect for singing around the campfire!
Thoughts by Julie-Pellissier-Lush, Mi’kmaq Knowledge Keeper and Poet Laureate of Prince Edward Island … and author of the Park Promise!
This whole idea of having a way to make the visitor experience more meaningful came into being almost a year ago now with myself being asked to partner up with the wonderful staff of Parks Canada to create a poem. Now after so much wonderful discussion and ideas on what would work perfectly, the idea of a promise to the park came into reality. The first few drafts were pages upon pages of visual poetry, where the words came into your heart with the memory of all the sights our visitors could have experienced while they were there and make them want to come back. Very soon we knew it had to be more than the sights, more than the sounds, we wanted it to be a commitment and to do that I knew I had to share something incredibly special from our Indigenous community, something that would resonate to all our guest of the parks: their love and commitment to these places.
The seven directions and the seven sacred teachings was the way I knew it had to go, so people could find love and meaning in their visits and most especially in their commitment. The first direction is the East, and the teaching is love that is represented by the Eagle. The second is the South, and the teaching is humility that is represented by the Wolf. The third direction is the West, and the teaching is respect represented by the moose. The fourth direction is the North, and the teaching is courage represented by the Bear. The fifth direction is up, and the teaching is wisdom represented by the Beaver. The sixth direction is down, and the teaching is truth represented by the turtle. The seventh direction is in, and the teaching is honesty represented by either Glooscap or a Sabe.
These are just some of our teachings that have been passed down from generation to generation by the Elders who watched nature, the animals and the birds to find the teachings that would make us stronger as a people. When we took these and moved them to the park and how we could connect our teachings to the experiences we knew, we had it exactly right to make the Park Promise magical. This is a project that will be able to take our teachings and move everyone forward in the right way.
There are many other ways you can promise to help, inside and outside of the national park.
Visiting the park
- Take in an interpretive program – Learn about all the ways Parks Canada works to conserve and protect Canada’s special places by joining our interpreters for one of our fun-filled interpretive programs.
- Don’t feed wildlife – Feeding our furry friends can cause them to spend too much time close to roadways and the places we live, putting them in danger and spreading disease.
- Help us keep the park clean – Leave no trace! Dispose of garbage properly and take home everything you brought to the park. Picking up litter you see while you visit the park will help keep our wildlife safe and clean as they make their homes and live their life in the park.
- Let us know who else is visiting our park – Keep an eye out for some of our elusive species at risk. Grab a photo and send it our way! Report your sightings on iNaturalist or through our free Species at Risk text line (902-200-1323).
- Stay off the dunes – Walking on the dunes can damage plants which hold this delicate ecosystem together. Help us preserve them by only using the designated walkways through the park.
- Keep out of closed areas – Sometimes we need to close off parts of our park to protect species at risk and sensitive ecosystems. If you see signs indicating a closed area, please keep out.
- Don’t take that cool shell or rock with you – Removing objects from the park can deprive our little critters of homes and important camouflage. If you want a souvenir, take a photo with your favorite beach find and put it back. This will allow others, animal or human, to also enjoy the beauty of the park.
- Keep your dog on a leash – You are more than welcome to hike our trails with your four-legged family member. Remember that for the safety of your dog, and other animals, it is important to keep your dog on leash while they are in the park. Please note that dogs (even those on leash) and other domestic animals are not permitted on PEI National Park beaches annually from April 1 to October 15.
At home and outside of the park
- Help Species at Risk – Report bat sightings to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at 1-833-434-2287 (BATS), or become a Piping Plover guardian! Consider planting a pollinator garden with native plants that benefit local pollinators – some of our native insect pollinators are now species at risk! Share what you learn about Species at Risk with your family and friends.
- Plant some trees, and don’t remove older trees if possible – Trees produce oxygen and help clean the air. Plant native species, and consider leaving older trees standing where possible – large trees produce a lot of oxygen, and even when dead they provide food and shelter for many species, including valuable habitat for cavity-nesting birds.
- Avoid invasive species – When obtaining plants for your yard or your garden, make sure you are getting native plants. Many non-native plants may be beautiful, but some are invasive and quickly out-compete native species – plus, they usually provide no benefit to native birds and insects.
- Help reduce the impacts of climate change – Consider the environmental impacts of your actions every day. How efficient is your car? Your home? Even turning off lights when you leave a room can make a big impact over time.
- Be litter aware – Participate in roadside clean-ups and encourage others to do the same. When hiking or going to the beach, make sure you pack out what you took in. Properly sort your own garbage, and avoid single-use plastics that add more volume to the waste stream.
- Become a citizen scientist – Share your nature observations. Nature is changing quickly around us - help keep track of our precious wildlife by recording biodiversity in your own backyard. Download iNaturalist and let your sightings become part of scientific databases used to track changes in wild species.
- Volunteer with a local group – Consider participating with organizations that help make a difference for the environment – they are likely looking for help from people just like you!