Annual management plan implementation update 2019-2020

Auyuittuq National Park

The Auyuittuq National Park Management Plan identifies the long-term strategic direction and management goals for Auyuittuq National Park (ANP). The plan is consistent with the Nunavut Agreement, the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Auyuittuq, Quttinirpaaq and Sirmilik National Parks (IIBA), and Parks Canada’s mandate to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations. ANP is cooperatively managed with the Auyuittuq Joint Inuit/Government Park Planning and Management Committee (JPMC) established under the IIBA.

This 2019-2020 update is PCA’s annual progress report on the implementation of the management plan for Inuit rights holders, partners, stakeholders, and the public. The current management plan is at the end of its 10-year lifecycle (July 2010-2020) and the management planning process to review the plan has been initiated. PCA achieved fully or partially 85% of the targets in the current management plan.

A Parks Canada guide talks with two visitors with Ulu Peak in the background.
Auyuittuq National Park Manager, Leanna Ellsworth, interpreting at Ulu Peak, one of the first stops in beautiful Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut.
Photo Credit: Parks Canada Agency

Table of contents

Strategy 1: Engaging the communities of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq in connecting visitors to the land, marine ecosystems and Inuit culture.

Objective 1: To diversify and enhance visitor experience in Auyuittuq National Park and the communities of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq.

  • Parks Canada welcomed 356 visitors to ANP in 2019-20. A voluntary survey was given to park visitors upon exiting the park to help inform future visitor experience opportunities.
  • Outfitters provided interpretation services in the areas around Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq while en route to Auyuittuq National Park.
  • Since the establishment of the Piqalujaujaq Center in Qikiqtarjuaq in 2016, Park staff have been able to support more community tourism activities such as receiving cruise ship visitors.
  • Visitors are provided with one to five day routes along the Akshayuk Pass instead of the popular eight to ten-day hike through the entire Akshayuk Pass.
  • As an outcome of an asset assessment (June 2019), it was recommended that the Glacial Lake emergency shelter and outhouse be relocated due to erosion by glacial run-off.
  • Interpretive products have been developed for potential cruise ship programming in Nedluseak Fjord. Products include an orientation presentation, a brochure, terms and conditions for visitation to the Fjord, a three-page background document for staff, and a one-page interpretive document for visitors.

Objective 2: To enhance community relations.

  • Two full-time seasonal staff from Qikiqtarjuaq have been hired and had their seasons extended to allow for their year-round employment.
  • Since 2018, the two Parks Canada offices located in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung have been staffed by a 100% Inuit workforce who can communicate in Inuktitut.
  • Auyuittuq National Park staff travel from Pangnirtung to Qikiqtarjuaq two to four times annually. In 2019-20, there were three trips to Qikiqtarjuaq.
  • Parks Canada hosted an open house in Qikiqtarjuaq in March 2020. Approximately 25 people attended.
  • Parks Day was celebrated in Pangnirtung in July 2019. Approximately 36 people attended.
  • Trilingual Inuktitut, English, and French branded Parks Canada event materials were ordered to use at community events and open houses to improve the visibility of Parks Canada in the communities and attract community members to Parks Canada events.
  • Quality Visitor Experience training was delivered to all Park staff in Pangnirtung (7 staff) and Qikiqtarjuaq (2 staff) in August 2019.

Objective 3: To improve marketing of the park and promote adjacent communities of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq by partnering with tourism organizations.

  • There are three posters in the Iqaluit International Airport to promote Auyuittuq National Park. One poster generally promoting Auyuittuq National Park and two others promoting the Arctic Circle and Ulu peak day hikes.
  • Auyuittuq National Park was featured at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show in February 2020. Over 1000 people visited the Parks Canada Nunavut booth to receive information, view photos, and receive lure cards, magnets, and stickers featuring Auyuittuq National Park.
  • A three year (2017-2019) cooperative partnership between Parks Canada and Adventure Canada to develop and offer a unique, world class cruise experience that highlights northern PCA parks and sites and showcases Indigenous culture was carried out. Auyuittuq National Park was a cruise ship destination for two of those three years, including in 2019.

Strategy 2: Gathering and sharing knowledge to build connection to place.

Objective 1: To use Inuit knowledge and science in inventories, monitoring, education and visitor experience programs of the park.

  • A pilot project to include Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in the park’s ecological integrity monitoring program continues. A summary of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit about the health of the park’s ecosystems was shared by the Inuit Knowledge Working Group to inform the State of the Park Assessment in 2015 and 2016. The State of the Park Assessment was completed and presented to the Auyuittuq JPMC in 2019.
  • The development of cultural resource monitoring protocols for archeological sites in Maktak and Pangnirtung Fjords is on-going.
  • Park staff collected freshwater samples in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division during the 2019 summer field season. Water quality monitoring in Auyuittuq National Park provides data to assess ecosystem health, natural biogeochemical cycling in rivers and other water bodies, and the impacts of global anthropogenic activities on freshwater ecosystems in the park.
  • One research permit was issued for the park in 2019 which was for the ArcticNet 2019 expedition onboard the Canadian research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen. The research vessel was permitted to operate in Maktak, Coronation, and North Pangnirtung Fjords. The main objective of the research program is to assess the changes occurring in the marine ecosystems of the Canadian Arctic in response to climate change. The research team consulted with the community members in Qikiqtarjuaq on its proposed activities and hired an Inuk field assistant from Pangnirtung. The research team provided a copy of their field report to the Hamlets and Hunters and Trappers Organizations in both communities.
  • A summer student was hired in Pangnirtung for a three-month placement and participated in park patrols and fieldwork.
  • Auyuittuq National Park employees and local outfitters enrich visitor experiences by sharing their knowledge with park users. Other businesses (including Adventure Canada, Arctic Kingdom and Blackfeather) hire Inuit to support their trips, as cultural interpreters or safety support. Parks Canada continues to urge all non-Inuit companies to hire local residents.

Objective 2: To strengthen the connection of youth to Inuit culture and history and to the park’s glaciated landscape and fiords.

  • Parks Canada provided support (costs of boat transportation) for eight Inuit youth from the Qikiqtarjuaq Land-based Educational Adventure Program (LEAP) to hike the Akshayuk pass in the summer of 2019. Information about the history of Auyuittuq National Park was shared with the students.
  • An Xplorer Booklet for youth was under development in 2019/2020 and will be finalized in 2020/2021. The Xplorer Booklet will include a scavenger hunt in the park office that focuses on educating youth about the park’s ecosystems, cultural resources and Inuit culture and history.
  • An Inuit Place Names map is displayed at offices in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung. With the completion of the Inuit Place Names Project in 2018/19, Inuktitut names will be included in all future materials for youth programming, including the Xplorer Booklet.

Objective 3: To strengthen the connection of other Canadians to Inuit culture and history and to the park’s glaciated landscape and fiords.

  • Parks Canada Nunavut Facebook posts related to Auyuittuq National Park reached 61,107 viewers. The park was also featured in seven web articles, including two articles on the Inuit Place Names Map Project that was featured on ParksNet and in Nunavut News North.
  • The Inuit Place Names Map story, posted on the Parks Canada Intranet, was published in all official languages as well as in Inuktitut – a first for the Parksnet.
  • Akshayuk Pass was featured as part of Canada’s Historic Places Day social media campaign which was featured in July 2019 on Parks Canada Nunavut Facebook page.
  • In 2019-2020, PCA entered into a contribution agreement with the Nunavut Arctic College for the editing, publishing and promotion of Voices of Baffin, a book based on the collection of oral history interviews of Inuit in Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq. The book will be finalized in 2020-21.
  • An Auyuittuq National Park photo highlights binder featuring photos and captions written by park staff was created for use in outreach programming to external audiences.

Objective 4: To cooperate with the communities of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq to manage issues of common concern.

  • Annual updates on park management are disseminated to the communities of Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq through updates provided to the Auyuittuq JPMC during annual meetings open to the public. In 2019-20, the Auyuittuq JPMC held two face-to-face meetings (June 18-19, 2019 and September 24-25, 2019) and four teleconference meetings (May 8, October 29, December 10, 2019 and January 28, 2020).
  • Parks staff contact the local Hunters and Trappers Organizations in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung regarding wildlife issues in Auyuittuq National Park and advise others on wildlife closures in the park.
  • Low-flying aircraft in the park remains a concern. Following a low flying and landing event in the park by Department of National Defense (DND) this year, Parks Canada has been working with DND to improve notification and timely permitting requests so as to mitigate potential visitor, harvester, and/or ecological impacts.

Area 1: Akshayuk Pass

Objective 1: To increase the availability of products and programs for visitors.

  • The Auyuittuq National Park staff in Pangnirtung help to promote and coordinate spring and summer day trips for visitors in Pangnirtung. These trips are advertised on the Auyuittuq National Park website and via posters in the Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq, and Iqaluit airports. One of these trips is the Arctic Circle snowmobile trip with a local outfitter and park staff but could not be offered in 2019 due to lack of snow. The second trip offered is the summer Ulu Peak interpretive hikes delivered by park staff.
  • The Auyuittuq National Park Offices in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung offer an array of Auyuittuq specific merchandise as part of the Parks Canada signature series which includes ball caps, t-shirts, neck tubes, mugs, and key chains.
  • Visitors are offered one to five day routes along the Akshayuk Pass if they do not wish to walk the entire Akshayuk Pass Route.
  • Posters of Auyuittuq National Park are on display at the Iqaluit, Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung airports.

Objective 2: To maintain and restore ecological integrity, protect cultural resources and respect Inuit culture and harvesting.

  • Ecological integrity monitoring for glacier and tundra ecosystems takes place annually in Akshayuk Pass and the Penny Icecap area. Tundra monitoring activities were completed between July 29-August 4, 2019. Glacier monitoring activities were cancelled due to a combination of poor weather, helicopter unavailability and glacier safety guide scheduling conflicts.
  • Park staff record observations of route condition and erosion along the Akshayuk Pass Route. Most erosion was found to be a result of natural erosion processes, especially flooding episodes, rather than hiking traffic.
  • Information about the park’s ecosystems, ecological integrity, and the importance of cultural resources in the Akshayuk Pass and North Pangnirtung Fjord are provided in the visitor information package and on the Auyuittuq National Park website.

Area 2: Coronation Fiord to the head of Narpaing Fiord

Objective 1: To increase the availability of products and programs for visitors.

  • Based on advice from the Auyuittuq JPMC, a Qikiqtarjuaq outfitter was permitted to take visitors into Coronation Fjord and Narpaing Fjord; however, the request to include polar bear den viewing was not permitted as per advice from the JPMC.

Objective 2: To maintain and restore ecological integrity, protect cultural resources and respect Inuit culture and harvesting.

  • Zoning regulations are in place to support harvesting and areas of special importance to Inuit as required by the IIBA because of their importance to Inuit for berry-picking and narwhal harvesting. These zoning regulations are communicated through annual seasonal area closures put in place by Superintendent Orders to respect Inuit rights to continue berry-picking and narwhal harvesting. The Superintendent Orders are communicated through visitor information packages, visitor orientations, in the park offices in Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung, in the park’s emergency shelters, and on the Auyuittuq National Park website.

Area 3: Okoa Bay to Confederation Fiord

Objective 1: To increase the availability of products and programs for visitors.

  • Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and Visitor Experience (VE) staff conducted site assessments for potential cruise ship stops in conjunction with CRM fieldwork during the 2018 field season in North Pangnirtung Fjord, Maktak Fjord, and Coronation Fjord. VE presented these potential cruise ship sites to the Auyuittuq JPMC in 2019-2020 to seek their advice. The Auyuittuq JPMC has recommended that Parks Canada conduct community consultations with the communities of Qikiqtarjuaq and Pangnirtung to see if community members support these potential cruise ship sites.

Objective 2: To maintain and restore ecological integrity, protect cultural resources and respect Inuit culture and harvesting.

  • Advice was sought from the Auyuittuq JPMC on whether or not motorized access would be considered in the northern parts of the park, especially near the mouth of Nedlukseak Fjord.

Conclusion—Next steps

Parks Canada and the Auyuittuq JPMC are looking forward to another successful year ahead. Plans for 2020-21 are being adjusted on an on-going basis in response to the evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. Key initiatives for the upcoming year include:

  • Reviewing the 2010 Auyuittuq National Park Management Plan with the newly established Auyuittuq Park Planning Team. The Park Planning Team will continue the management planning process as per the IIBA.
  • Developing interpretive and educational products and programs on the park, its ecosystems, and Inuit culture in cooperation with tourism stakeholders and community knowledge holders. Inuktitut place names will be used in these products.
  • Printing (1000 copies) and distributing the finalized Stories of Baffin Inuit oral history book in Pangnirtung and Qikiqtarjuaq. Oral interviews will also be shared on the local radio in both communities.
  • Developing the park’s Cultural Resource Monitoring Strategy and Program.

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