What we heard: Report on the public consultation of the management statement for Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites
Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites
Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that recognizes and honours the historic and contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples to society, their scientific knowledge, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationships Indigenous peoples have with ancestral lands, ice and waters. Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites of Canada are situated on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Mi’gmaq People and are subject to the Peace and Friendship treaties co-developed and signed with the British Crown in the 18th century. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands, waters, or resources but in fact recognized Mi’gmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), and Peskotomuhkatiyik title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.
Parks Canada and Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites would like to thank Mi'gmawe'l Tplu'taqnn Inc., Friends of Beaubears Island Inc., the City of Miramichi, Acadian and Scottish stakeholder organizations, environmental protection and nature conservation groups, and members of the public who provided feedback and input throughout the management statement process. The feedback received during initial engagement with Friends of Beaubears Island Inc. helped shape the draft of the Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites Management Statement, and the feedback received during the public consultation period helped to refine the document and address any outstanding opportunities for improvement. The planning team carefully reviewed and considered all feedback, resulting in a robust and effective strategic document to guide Boishébert and Beaubears Island National Historic Sites into the future. Though some ideas may not ultimately be included in the final version of the document, they may nonetheless be retained for future use in other aspects of the management planning process, namely in the implementation of the outlined objectives.
What is a management statement?
Management statements and management plans are key guidance documents that provide clear, strategic direction for the management and operation of the heritage places administered by Parks Canada.
The Canada National Parks Act (2000) and the Parks Canada Agency Act (1998) require Parks Canada to produce a management plan or statement for sites it administers. Parks Canada’s management statements differ from management plans in that they guide management decisions and actions at heritage places with limited management complexity, which are either owned by Parks Canada but are non-operational or operated by a third-party, or that have a minimal service offer. In this case, visitor experience at the sites is the responsibility of Friends of Beaubears Island Inc. as established through a contractual service agreement with Parks Canada.
Both management plans and management statements serve as key accountability documents to Indigenous peoples and Canadians. The management statement planning process allows Indigenous peoples, partners and stakeholders, and the public to have a voice in shaping the future management direction for a heritage place.
The management statement for Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding Historic Site was developed through initial engagement with the Friends of Beaubears Island Inc. and on the record consultation with Mi’gmaq in New Brunswick. During the public consultation period we received feedback from the Friends of Beaubears Island Inc, environmental protection and nature conservation groups, Acadian and Scottish stakeholder organizations, local municipalities, as well as other partners, stakeholders and interested Canadians. The management statement lays out the future direction for the historic sites including management priorities and five specific management objectives. This official document, when approved by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and tabled in Parliament, will guide the management decisions and actions of Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding NHS for the next ten years. The new management statement will replace the older management plan published in 2011.
Engagement and consultation process — Who we heard from
In order to facilitate meaningful opportunities for the public to contribute to the Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding NHS management statement, a two-phased consultation approach was developed, using both direct and broad-reach methods of engagement.
Phase one involved on the record consultation with Mi’gmaq in New Brunswick. An initial consultation session was conducted in September of 2021 with Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI), an organization representing eight of nine of the province’s Mi’gmaq communities.
An engagement session was also held with Friends of Beaubears Island Inc. as the current operators in charge of visitor experience at the sites.
The objectives of these sessions were to consult and gather knowledge for the development of the new management statement, to review the 2011 management plan and assess the state of its listed objectives and actions, and to adjust and validate the vision for Boishébert NHS, Beaubears Island Shipbuilding, and for the J. Leonard O’Brien Memorial for the next 10 years.
Phase two involved a public consultation period that provided other partners, stakeholders, Parks Canada staff, and the general public with an opportunity to review and comment on the draft management statement. The draft management statement was publicly available on the website from September 26 to October 31 and the public was invited to submit comments by email. A small number of comments (11) were submitted during this period. A total of seven social media posts and one social media paid advertisement promoting the draft management statement and public consultation helped the Parks Canada team reached 888 and 48401 people respectively during a five-week period. Furthermore, the paid advertisement on social media generated 988 link clicks which is indicative of the number of people who had a closer look at the management statement. Paid advertisements also appeared in local print newspapers l’Acadie Nouvelle and Miramichi Leader. Personalized emails were sent to key partners and collaborators encouraging their participation.
The planning team carefully reviewed and considered all feedback, resulting in a robust and effective strategic document to guide Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites well into the future.
What we heard
With the future in mind, it is critical to maintain the rich and varied history of Beaubears Island while increasing the focus on the role of the Indigenous people and their relationship to Island.
The following summary reflects the feedback received from the online comment period and during direct engagement and consultation sessions with Mi’gmaq, key partners, stakeholders, and staff. While management plans and statements are high-level, long-term strategic documents, written with a results-based approach as opposed to an action plan, some respondents indicated that they would prefer to see more detail in the management statement and provided specific ideas as to how the management statement should be implemented.
The passion of stakeholders, partners and the public for the Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites was apparent in the extent and tone of responses, the understanding and passion for the national historic sites and the region in which they are situated, as well as the willingness to be engaged, and desire to stay informed.
Though a wide range of ideas and opinions were voiced, certain themes did emerge. Central to these was the inclusion of Mi’gmaq voices and stories, both historic and present-day, in the visitor experience and in the planning process. Contributors wished to see the Mi’gmaq perspective more prominently displayed and shared throughout the sites. Several comments emphasized the need for an Indigenous knowledge study to better understand the historic Mi’gmaq presence at the sites and the surrounding region. The importance of properly consulting Mi’gmaq at the outset of any planning or decision-making process was also noted.
Several other contributors commented on the importance of the Boishébert National Historic Site to the Acadian community, with its commemoration of an Acadian refugee camp known as Camp d’Espérance situated on provincially owned land at what is today called Wilson’s Point. Comments pointed to the need to better research and honour the tragic history of what once happened there, while maintaining it as a sober place of remembrance, reflection, learning, and pilgrimage for the Acadian population.
On a different note, several of the comments received pertained to the sites’ unique ecology and their rich natural resources, along with Park Canada’s role in helping to address the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring ecosystem health and resilience, and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. In December 2022, several weeks after the end of the public consultation period, Beaubears Island received a designation as an Other Effective area-based Conservation Measure (OECM). OECMs are lands that are not necessarily considered protected natural areas in a strict sense but are nonetheless managed in ways that achieve the conservation of biodiversity.
Finally, several contributors mentioned their desire that the visitor experience be enhanced with improved interpretative services and activities leading to an increase in overall visitation. Numerous stakeholders voiced their support for more regular consultation, improved communication and collaboration between various stakeholders, implementation updates and reporting on the progress made towards the management plan’s objectives and targets.
The Parks Canada planning team is proud to say that the Management Statement for Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites was completed through consultation with Mi’gmaq in New Brunswick, Friends of Beaubears Island Inc, Acadian and Scottish partners, local municipalities, and the general public. The final document has evolved to reflect suggestions and ideas that we heard from you. Our shared vision will guide the sites’ management for the next 10 years as we work to implement the key strategies, objectives and targets that will improve the sites’ commemorative integrity, visitor experience and our relationships with local communities.
While the management planning process is now complete, Parks Canada will be providing annual implementation updates to rightsholders, partners, stakeholders and the general public. Additionally, Parks Canada is always open to receiving feedback and suggestions for ways we can work with others to achieve shared objectives.
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