Quttinirpaaq National Park Draft Management Plan, 2020

Quttinirpaaq National Park

Executive summary

Located on northern Ellesmere Island, Quttinirpaaq National Park is Canada’s northernmost national park, representing the Eastern High Arctic Natural region in Canada’s National Park System Plan. Initially established as a National Park Reserve in 1988, Quttinirpaaq National Park protects 37,775km2, and is the country’s second largest National Park. The park’s landscape is dominated by glaciers and mountains and includes a variety of uniquely adapted ecosystems, resulting in protection of substantial biodiversity.

Together, Parks Canada and Inuit are managing Quttinirpaaq National Park through the Joint Park Management Committee as outlined in the Nunavut Agreement and the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Auyuittuq, Sirmilik and Quttinirpaaq (IIBA). This management committee advises the Minister on any matters pertaining to park management for ministerial approval.

This management plan replaces the 2009 management plan for Quttinirpaaq National Park and reflects the priorities of Parks Canada and Inuit partners. The plan outlines the importance of Quttinirpaaq to multiple groups, including Inuit from the adjacent communities of Resolute and Grise Fiord, whose ancestors lived here. Quttinirpaaq is a place of global importance to understand the impacts of climate change.

The vision articulated in this plan underlines the importance of conservation, partnerships and enhancement of opportunities for appreciation and understanding of the local, regional, national and global significance of the park’s natural and cultural values. Three key strategies, a zoning plan and an area management approach are identified to guide management activities to realize the Park’s vision.

Key strategy 1

Honoring shared commitments

Core objectives of the Nunavut Agreement are to encourage self-reliance and the cultural and social well-being of Inuit. This strategy addresses meeting our Nunavut Agreement and IIBA obligations to this goal. Parks Canada works with other federal departments to be an active member of the associated communities of Resolute and Grise Fiord.

Key strategy 2

Working together

Conservation is more successful when aligned with regional initiatives for activities inside and outside the park. Quttinirpaaq management will be guided by the Inuit Societal Value of Qanuqtuurniq (being innovative and resourceful) to pro-actively seek out ways to work with others to ensure continued success. Effective two-way communication and relationship building with communities is essential to realize this success.

Key strategy 3

Learning from people and land

Quttinirpaaq management will bring together science and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit to foster Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq (respect and care for the environment) and increase our understanding of the natural and cultural values of the park and the greater region. This knowledge will be used to encourage global appreciation and understanding of the high arctic, the impacts of climate change and humanity’s ingenuity and ability to adapt to challenges and changing circumstances.

1.0 Introduction

Parks Canada Agency manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and historic places in the world. The Agency’s mandate is to protect and present these places for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. Future-oriented, strategic management of each national park, national marine conservation area, heritage canal and those national historic sites administered by Parks Canada supports the Agency’s vision:

Canada’s treasured natural and historic places will be a living legacy, connecting hearts and minds to a stronger, deeper understanding of the very essence of Canada.

The Canada National Parks Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act require Parks Canada to prepare a management plan for each national park. Implementing the Nunavut Agreement requires this plan be developed by a Park Planning Team, consisting of an equal number of members appointed by Parks Canada and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association (QIA). The Quttinirpaaq National Park Management Plan, once approved by the Joint Park Management Committee (JPMC) and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, guides management for the next ten years and ensures accountability to Canadians. This plan outlines how park management will achieve measurable results in the implementation of the Nunavut Agreement (NA), the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Auyuittuq, Quttinirpaaq and Sirmilik National Parks (Baffin IIBA), and Parks Canada Agency’s mandate.

It’s a beautiful land if it’s a beautiful day, but if it’s a bad day, it’s still a beautiful land.

Bernard Maktar
JPMC member from Pond Inlet

Inuit and other Canadians were engaged by the Park Planning Team to shape the future direction of the national park through the management planning process. This plan has been reviewed by QIA and the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board, and approved by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. It sets clear, strategic direction for the management of Quttinirpaaq National Park (the Park) by articulating a vision, key strategies and objectives. As per the Baffin IIBA, Parks Canada, in cooperation with the QIA, will report annually on progress toward achieving the plan objectives and will review the plan every ten years or sooner if requested by the JPMC, QIA or Parks Canada.

This plan is not an end in and of itself. Parks Canada and Inuit will maintain an open dialogue on the implementation of the management of Quttinirpaaq National Park, to ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful.

Map 1: Regional setting, text description follows
Map 1: Regional setting — Text version

Map showing the regional setting of Quttinirpaaq National Park on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. Locations on the map include

  • Quttinirpaaq, Qausuittuq and Sirmilik National Parks
  • Alert
  • Grise Fiord
  • Resolute
  • Arctic Bay
  • Pond Inlet
  • Clyde River
  • Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area
Map 2: Quttinirpaaq National Park, text description follows
Map 2: Quttinirpaaq National Park — Text version

Map showing Quttinirpaaq National Park. Locations on the map include:

  • Ward Hunt Island
  • Lake Hazen
  • Tanquary Fiord
  • Barbeau Peak
  • Kettle Lake
  • Victor
  • Ida
  • Fort Conger

Inuit used to live up here, when they travelled only by dog team. Their sites are scattered all through here. Whether during dark season or only in the summer, it’s amazing they could do that. When you go up there and start learning about them, it makes you wonder, how did they do it?

How did they survive?

It baffles your mind.

When you come up here, your mind wanders backwards to how it might have been.

That’s what makes the park even more special.

Liza Ningiuk
JPMC and PPT member from Grise Fiord

2.0 Significance of Quttinirpaaq National Park

Quttinirpaaq National Park is Canada’s northernmost, and second largest National Park, covering 37,775 km2 (Map 1). Quttinirpaaq is an Inuktitut word meaning “at the top,” referring to its location at the top of the world. It was named by the people of Grise Fiord and Resolute in 2001. The park’s landscape is dominated by glaciers and mountains, yet includes a remarkable diversity of unique and localized ecosystems including a polar desert, the deepest freshwater lake north of the Arctic Circle, and distinct microbial systems. Along the northern coast, glaciers spill into deep marine fiords, and multi-year ice shelves support unique, ice-dependent communities. Some of the area’s lowlands and wetlands are surprisingly lush, with a remarkable variety of plants and animals for a region shrouded in snow and darkness for half the year. Muskoxen, small herds of Peary caribou, Arctic wolves, Arctic hares and a variety of birds can be found here.

Quttinirpaaq plays a significant role in understanding human history in the Arctic, with some of the oldest, and one of the densest concentrations, of prehistoric Arctic archeological sites within its boundary. Dating back over 4000 years, these sites provide evidence of the migration of Independence I people from the sub-arctic through to Greenland along a route known as the Muskox Way. The area is important to today’s Inuit as their direct ancestors, Thule Inuit, travelled and lived in the park area for several hundreds of years. Thule Inuit came to this area about 1000 years ago and evidence of their year-round presence is found throughout the park. The Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin (Map 2) has been an important hunting and fishing ground for Greenland Inughuit until quite recently.

This region became known to southern Canadians in the era of the Cold War (1947-91) due to the Canadian Defence Research Board (DRB) who established three camps in what is today Quttinirpaaq National Park. The DRB conducted integrated scientific research spanning meteorology, glaciology, oceanography and other disciplines between the 1950s and 70s. Their research, and subsequent studies in these northern most ecosystems, has been informing science for well over six decades. The Park is viewed as a global point of reference for the effects of climate change. As the impacts of climate change are more pronounced near the poles, observations made this far north can provide a window into changes and challenges anticipated for southern regions.

Quttinirpaaq National Park represents the Eastern High Arctic Natural Region within the Canadian National Park’s System Plan. The eastern shores and ice shelves of the Park are within the Remnant Arctic Multi-Year Sea Ice and Northeast Water Polynya Ecoregion which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature proposes has outstanding universal value. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans considers this ecosystem an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) of the Arctic Archipelago Region.

Quttinirpaaq National Park was first established as a Park Reserve in 1988. Following the signing of the Nunavut Agreement in 1993, the Baffin IIBA was negotiated with QIA and signed in 1999. Quttinirpaaq was subsequently established as a National Park with a cooperative management committee (the JPMC) when the Canada National Parks Act came into force in 2001. The park is a tangible expression of Canadian Arctic Sovereignty.

In 2004, Canada included Quttinirpaaq National Park on its tentative list for future nomination for inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of World Heritage Sites. Proposed under four separate criteria: successive human occupation; natural beauty and superlative natural phenomena; geological processes representing major stages of earth’s history; and the presence of a diversity of arctic species, Canada believes that the natural and cultural values of Quttinirpaaq are globally significant.

3.0 Planning context

Remote location

As one of the most remote, and least visited National Parks in Canada, Parks Canada faces some unique challenges with Quttinirpaaq National Park. There are no roads to get to the park, and no aircraft stationed in Grise Fiord, still the closest community at over 600 km away. The airport in Resolute, from where charter flights to the park depart, is over 900 kilometers away, resulting in high financial and environmental operating costs.

Legislative basis of the park

Federally, the Canada National Parks Act and associated regulations provide the legal framework for managing Quttinirpaaq National Park. It is important to note that the Nunavut Agreement prevails where any inconsistencies or conflicts with the Canada National Parks Act arise. Specific zoning parameters are outlined in the Nunavut Agreement, stating that, “each National Park in the Nunavut Settlement Area shall contain a predominant proportion of Zone I - Special Preservation and Zone II – Wilderness.”

Cooperative management

The Nunavut Agreement defines the rights of Inuit and formalizes the arrangement for potential joint Inuit-Federal Government management of Parks Canada places in Nunavut. The Baffin IIBA defines this management structure and establishes the requirement, structure and responsibilities of a Joint Park Management Committee (JPMC). The JPMC, like the Park Planning team, consists of equal number of members appointed by PCA and QIA acting impartially, in the public interest, rather than as representatives of their appointing body. The JPMC advises on all matters relating to park management, including the development of this plan. The Baffin IIBA outlines the management planning process for Quttinirpaaq and requires the plan be approved by the JPMC before public consultation and before ministerial approval.

Benefits for Inuit in Nunavut

An objective of the Baffin IIBA is to provide opportunities for Inuit in the adjacent communities to benefit from the establishment, planning, management and operation of the Park. The two adjacent communities, as defined by the Baffin IIBA, are Resolute and Grise Fiord. Both have populations under 200. As previously stated, these communities are still a substantial distance from the park, and few Inuit go to the park as they face the same access challenges as Parks Canada. Currently, the Park’s operating season is limited to two months in the summer, which can still be a long time away from home for staff from a culture with strong family ties. No Quttinirpaaq specific positions are based in either community. This all contributes to the challenge of recruitment, retention and community engagement. While Parks Canada has been challenged to fulfill these obligations, with this plan, the Agency is restating its commitment to do better through the specific targets outlined below, including implementation of the Field Unit’s new Inuit Employment Plan.

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit

Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit refers to the knowledge and understanding of all things that affect the daily lives of Inuit and the application of that knowledge for the survival of a people and their culture. It is a knowledge that has sustained the past and that is to be used today to ensure an enduring future. Incorporating Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit into the management of Quttinirpaaq National Park is a priority. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit should be an overarching planning tool that influences all other priorities. Many targets in this management plan are aimed at better incorporating Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit into the management of the park.

Landscape-level conservation initiatives

Qausuittuq National Park on Bathurst Island was established in 2014, following the ratification of a separate IIBA that outlines obligations similar to the Baffin IIBA. The new Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area is associated with not only Resolute and Grise Fiord, but also Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Clyde River. Tuvaijuittuq, the High Arctic Basin, off the northern shores of the Arctic Archipelago recently came under interim protection as a Marine Protected Area These new protected areas significantly change the conservation landscape and, alongside the already established Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Areas, provide opportunities to capitalize on the synergies of multiple federally protected areas associated with, and potentially working out of the same communities.

Climate change

The effects of climate change are directly impacting the environment of the park as well as its users. Staff at the main operations camp and visitor hub, Tanquary Fiord, are seeing changes to the fresh water source which will require attention within the lifespan of this management plan. Erosion events witnessed throughout the park are thought to be increasing, a belief substantiated by Parks Canada’s work at Fort Conger and other recent studies in the Canadian Arctic. Fort Conger is both a historic and a contaminated site on the eastern shore of the Park (Map 2), where monitoring reveals an eroding coastline, increasing the risk of contaminants being deposited into the Arctic Ocean. Managers anticipate future changes but cannot predict the level of change. Therefore, increased attention to asset management and safety is warranted, as are collaborations with others, e.g., universities, to identify specific risks and to develop strategies to address or mitigate these impacts.

Scientific research

Northern Ellesmere Island has been of interest to the scientific community since the British Arctic Expedition, led by Captain George Nares, from 1875-76. Lieutenant Adolphus Greely established an American research base at Fort Conger for the first International Polar Year, 1882-83, but it was during the first International Geophysical Year, 1957-58, that the area became a veritable hub for science. The park’s present infrastructure makes it an invaluable asset to the operations of Natural Resources Canada’s Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) support services for all High Arctic research projects. Its proximity to the pole and relative low impact from human activity make it an ideal place for climate change related research and training. Findings from the area are discussed at climate change forums around the globe and recorded in professional publications.

Visitation and use

Visitation to Quttinirpaaq National Park is greatly affected by access, since cruise ships and charter flights are the only easy ways to get to the park. Cruise ships can bring in upwards of 150 people for short visits, concentrated in a small area. Between 2008 and 2017, the average annual visitation on years when no cruise ship visited was 17. There were three years in this time period when ships did land, and the park saw an average of 215 visitors in those years. An average of 20 researchers are in the park annually, spending anywhere from 5 days to 2 months, and while 40-150 Department of National Defense personnel may use the airstrip at Tanquary Fiord during the operating season, they rarely spend a night.

State of the park assessment

The Quttinirpaaq National Park of Canada State of the Park Assessment (2018) shows significant progress has been made to green park operations and decrease the overall footprint. All camps use solar as their primary source of electricity. Fuel management has been upgraded for greater environmental protection. A great deal of waste (metal, waste fuel, empty drums, old equipment) has been removed from the park. Tanquary Fiord camp is the park’s primary operations base, and, with its long airstrip and deep fiord, has evolved to serve as the central node for visitor activity. Since 2014, Parks Canada has been running a charter program to facilitate visitor access and developed visitor accommodation at Tanquary Fiord. Parks Canada has also partnered with a tourism outfitter to provide parts of the program offer. The Ecological Integrity and Cultural Resource Monitoring Program - based on the Cultural Resource Inventory - are now established for the park and a first analysis of data was performed as part of the State of the Park Assessment. Two of the four cultural resource indicators show good results, one was fair, and the final one not rated.

4.0 Vision

Inuit societal values:

Management of Quttinirpaaq National Park will be guided by these Inuit Societal Values:

  • Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq — Respect and Care for the Land
  • Piliriqatigiinniq/Ikajuqtigiinni — Working Together for a Common Cause
  • Tunnganarniq — Fostering Good Spirits by Being Open and Welcoming
  • Qanuqtuurniq — Being Innovative and Resourceful
  • Pijitsirniq — Serving and providing for family and/or community

Quttinirpaaq National Park is perched at the top of the world. Windswept and glacier carved, the years of change have traced their history across the expanse of northern Ellesmere Island and laid bare the history of geologic formation. Numerous cultural sites scattered throughout the expanse of the park bear testament to human ingenuity and adaptability, where people took advantage of the natural routes and gentler climate provided by the landscape.

Quttinirpaaq holds value as a place uniquely situated to provide insight into the state of the Arctic and the changing global environment. Relatively undisturbed by current human activity, Quttinirpaaq’s unique and diverse ecosystems are healthy and remain connected to the greater systems surrounding it. Though signs of climate change are visible, life thrives here, and cultural resources are treasured and protected.

Mutual trust and respect are the foundations of building knowledge: Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and science are equally essential to our understanding and management of the park.

Quttinirpaaq National Park welcomes park visitors, Inuit and other park users; meaningful experiences foster appreciation for the park as well as the Eastern High Arctic Region. The park’s infrastructure and assets will adequately serve all park user needs and reflect a thoughtful, low-impact approach that considers future change. Parks Canada has strong relationships to support the achievement of its mandate and its commitments to cooperatively manage the park with Inuit. Strong connections between the park, local communities, Nunavummiut and Canadians at large foster appreciation and understanding of Quttinirpaaq and the greater region. Innovation and resourcefulness guide Parks Canada’s success in fulfilling all aspects of its mandate and commitments.

My first year working there I fell in love with the place right away and kept going back. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful as those mountains and valleys, with all the wildlife.

I will forever love this place. It’s a big part in my heart for that place.

Tabitha Mullin
JPMC member from Resolute

5.0 Key strategies

Three key strategies describe the integrated approach to the management of Quttinirpaaq National Park for the next ten years. These strategies are based on priorities determined by the Park Planning Team, Joint Park Management Committee and Parks Canada, and meeting the objectives will direct how human and financial resources are allocated in order to realize our shared vision. They are also consistent with Canada’s Arctic Policy Framework (released September 10, 2019). Many of the targets are cross cutting and serve more than one objective. Where applicable, references to relevant Articles in the Baffin IIBA have been included to demonstrate the direct link between management plan commitments and IIBA implementation.

Target dates are relative to the date of signing of the plan, and unless otherwise specified, targets are to be met within the 10 year life of the plan, or are ongoing commitments.

Key strategy 1

Honouring shared commitments

Core objectives of the Nunavut Agreement are to encourage self-reliance, and the cultural and social well-being of Inuit. The Baffin IIBA is a tool used to honour Inuit rights and provide opportunities for Inuit to benefit from the establishment, planning, management and operation of the park. Guided by the Inuit Societal Value of Pijitsirniq (serving and providing for family and/or community) this strategy addresses meeting the Nunavut Agreement and Baffin IIBA commitments to this goal. Parks Canada works with other federal departments to be an active member of the associated communities of Resolute and Grise Fiord. Through capacity building for participation in management, economic and employment opportunities in these communities, Parks Canada seeks to provide ways for Inuit to benefit from the establishment, planning, management and operation of Quttinirpaaq National Park.

Objective 1.1

Inuit continue to be actively involved in the management of Quttinirpaaq.


  1. An orientation for new and returning JPMC members is developed and implemented within the first two years. Parks Canada will reach out to QIA to invite them to co-develop this product (Baffin IIBA Art. 5.1.29).
  2. At least one Inuit Knowledge Working Group project will be initiated within seven years (Baffin IIBA Objective (e)).
  3. Park management will actively promote and facilitate Inuit-led research projects from adjacent communities within two years (Baffin IIBA Art. 6.1.16).

Objective 1.2

Opportunities for greater Inuit involvement in employment and increased economic benefits are realized in the adjacent communities.


  1. At least one position associated with Quttinirpaaq extending beyond the operational season will be located in Resolute or Grise Fiord (Baffin IIBA Art. 9.1.1).
  2. Inuit staff from Resolute and Grise Fiord are mentored and provided training to achieve their career goals (Baffin IIBA Art. 9.2.1).
  3. The Baffin IIBA Economic Opportunities Fund held by Kakivak is promoted in the adjacent communities and Inuit are supported to develop opportunities and applications for that and other funding (Baffin IIBA Art. 10.3.2).
  4. Parks Canada will contribute to at least one regional skills development and capacity building initiative in Resolute or Grise Fiord every two years, e.g., tourism, research (Baffin IIBA Art. 9.2.4).

Objective 1.3

Park management, planning and operations will provide opportunities for Inuit from Resolute and Grise Fiord to develop stronger connections to the park.


  1. Within three years, create at least two learning activities that could be led by a community member to communicate knowledge and stimulate interest in the park to the communities of Resolute and Grise Fiord.
  2. The JMPC will at minimum hold two meetings in the park during the life of this management plan.
  3. At least two non- JPMC community members from each adjacent community visit the park once every three years through Parks Canada programming.
  4. An Inuk Youth Representative position (non-voting) on the JPMC is established within one year and maintained for the life of the plan.
  5. Complete an Inuktitut Place Names project. These names will be used and promoted by Parks Canada through our maps and materials.
  6. Facilitate the sharing of research through a community event and other means (e.g., social media, radio, newsletter, schools).
  7. Parks staff will facilitate connections between researchers and communities.

Key strategy 2

Working together

Quttinirpaaq National Park supports a number of different user groups. It is traditional home and hunting ground for Inuit. It is also a hub for northern research, a staging point for military operations and place for adventuring. Its remoteness, however, means access is a financial and logistical challenge for everyone, which makes working together on shared goals essential. For Parks Canada, major challenges include: upkeep of infrastructure that is key to program delivery; delivery of visitor opportunities; and enhancing our understanding of the parks’ natural and cultural heritage. Additionally, conservation is more successful when aligned with regional initiatives for activities inside and outside the park. Quttinirpaaq management will be guided by the Inuit Societal Value of Qanuqtuurniq (being innovative and resourceful) to pro-actively seek out ways to work with others to ensure continued success. Effective two-way communication and relationship building with communities is essential to realize this success.

Objective 2.1

Quttinirpaaq has the appropriate level of safe, well-maintained infrastructure to support current and expected partners and users.


  1. Within five years, needs of visitors, stakeholders, partners, researchers and park operations will be considered in the development of an asset strategy to guide all future asset management.
  2. User groups relying on the infrastructure in Quttinirpaaq support maintenance and operation of that infrastructure.
  3. Formal agreements are in place for in-park facilities and their use.

Objective 2.2

The relationship between Parks Canada and the tourism industry is strengthened to foster meaningful tourism initiatives in the region.


  1. Promotional material for Quttinirpaaq is available for Resolute and Grise Fiord businesses within one year.
  2. Opportunities to promote tourism through non-government agencies and organizations with a mandate and interest in conservation, tourism, outdoor education, culture and nature are pursued.
  3. Continue working with commercial tourism operators to bring a sustainable number of visitors to the park.
  4. Make connections between community members interested in tourism to the opportunities and support available for developing their skills and businesses.

Objective 2.3

Innovative approaches to address park management issues are fostered through collaboration, two-way communication and relationship building with partners and stakeholders.


  1. Collaborate with stakeholders to implement Species at Risk Act strategies and actions, specifically with regards to Peary caribou and Porsild’s Bryum.
  2. Collaboration with the management of Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, Qausuittuq National Park and Polar Continental Shelf Program to maximize resource efficiency.
  3. Seek opportunities to support the re-establishment of historical human ties to Greenland.
  4. Finalize Memorandum of Understandings with Polar Continental Shelf Program within one year and Department of National Defense within three years, to guide our continued relations.
  5. Work with Tuvaijuittuq (High Arctic Basin) and regional conservation initiatives as appropriate.

Objective 2.4

Through collaboration with researchers and consultation with communities, the research in Quttinirpaaq meets scientific priorities, community interests, and strengthens Inuit participation in research.


  1. Continue to host scientific research of national and global importance and encourage researchers to make data publicly available.
  2. Research priorities are reviewed and updated with JPMC every five years.
  3. There is research in the park that reflects shared park and community interests.
  4. At least one Inuk researcher initiates a research project in the park and is supported by Parks Canada (Baffin IIBA Art. 6.1.16).
  5. Encourage research projects that bring together Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and Science.

Key strategy 3

Learning from people and land

This strategy underlines the opportunity Quttinirpaaq provides to learn from the unique coexistence Inuit share with land and wildlife. It is a place where we can study the effects of geologic forces and change in rocks, ice and ecosystems over millions of years. Quttinirpaaq offers the opportunity to understand Arctic ecosystems and climate change in an environment used, but relatively unchanged by human activity and situated close to the North Pole. Quttinirpaaq management will bring together science and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit to foster Avatittinnik Kamatsiarniq (respect and care for the environment) and increase our understanding of the natural and cultural resources of the park and the greater region. This knowledge will be used to encourage global appreciation and understanding of the high arctic, the impacts of climate change and humanity’s ingenuity and ability to adapt to challenges and changing circumstances.

Objective 3.1

Public outreach tools and programs include Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and effectively communicate the values of Quttinirpaaq to all Canadians and beyond.


  1. One outreach activity showcasing a story based an understanding of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and science of Quttinirpaaq is available for staff to share and present within two years.
  2. Research and monitoring activities in the park are showcased on the Quttinirpaaq website and communicated with the communities annually.
  3. Provide the Cultural Resource Inventory to Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Inuit Heritage Trust, and Government of Nunavut.
  4. Opportunities to access Quttinirpaaq’s cultural resources virtually are increased and enhanced.
  5. Efforts are made to advance preparation of a nomination for inscription on the list of World Heritage Sites upon the advice and recommendations of management partners.
  6. Opportunities to partner to share research stories in innovative ways will be explored.

Objective 3.2

Research and ongoing monitoring programs in Quttinirpaaq National Park improve our knowledge and understanding of the park and Arctic ecosystems.


  1. Ecological Integrity and Cultural Resource monitoring programs provide usable data for making management decisions.
  2. Within two years, a climate change vulnerability assessment of targeted park assets will have provided the necessary results to inform an asset strategy.
  3. A protocol to monitor the impact of climate change on targeted cultural resources will be implemented within five years.
  4. At least one ecological integrity indicator will be developed based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.

Objective 3.3

User needs and the principles of environmental sustainability are met with appropriate infrastructure and improved learning opportunities.


  1. Quttinirpaaq’s capacity with respect to visitor and park user numbers in a given year will be determined within five years.
  2. A strategy to monitor, assess and communicate the safety of major hiking routes in the park will be implemented within the first three years of this management plan.
  3. Park visitor information and interpretive materials will be assessed and an updated implementation plan will be created within two years of signing this plan.
  4. Visitors to Fort Conger in the company of park staff have accurate information on the history of the site within two years.
  5. Within five years, cruise ship guide training and site guidelines for Fort Conger ensures the safety of both visitors and the resources during cruise ship visits that are unaccompanied by park staff.

6.0 Zoning

Parks Canada’s national park zoning system is an integrated approach to the classification of land and water areas in a national park and designates where particular activities can occur on land or water based on the ability to support those uses. The zoning system has five categories:

  • Zone I - Special Preservation;
  • Zone II - Wilderness;
  • Zone III – Natural Environment;
  • Zone IV - Outdoor Recreation; and
  • Zone V - Park Services.

Three zones are used in Quttinirpaaq National Park, as can be seen in Maps 3 and 4. The current zoning plan is consistent with management practices as well as Section 8.2.8 of the Nunavut Agreement which states that “each National Park in the Nunavut Settlement Area shall contain a predominant proportion of Zone I - Special Preservation and Zone II – Wilderness”. Zoning provisions do not apply to Inuit exercising traditional harvesting rights within Quttinirpaaq National Park (NA Art. 5.7.16).

The major change in zoning from the previous plan is the shift to Zone II with an Area Management Approach for the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin (Maps 3), as described in section 7.0. Otherwise, zoning remains relatively unchanged from the previous management plan, with the addition of several Zone I sites for the recently identified/listed species at risk, Porsild’s Bryum, and adjustment of the areas of Zone III around airstrips and camps to more accurately accommodate current and projected use patterns. The prohibition on sport fishing in Quttinirpaaq National Park, approved by the NWMB in 2006, remains in effect.

Map 3: Quttinirpaaq National Park zoning text description follows
Map 3: Quttinirpaaq National Park zoning - Text version

Map showing the zoning of Quttinirpaaq National Park. Zones detailed include:

  • Zone I - Special Preservation
  • Zone II - Wilderness
  • Zone II - Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin Special Management Area
  • Zone III - Natural Environment
Map 4: Zoning inset maps: a) Tanquary Fiord Area, b) Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp, c) Fort Conger Area, d) Ward Hunt Island, text description follows
Map 4: Zoning inset maps: a) Tanquary Fiord Area, b) Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp, c) Fort Conger Area, d) Ward Hunt Island - Text version

Four maps showing the detailed zoning of Quttinirpaaq National Park in the following areas: a) Tanquary Fiord Area, b) Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp, c) Fort Conger Area, d) Ward Hunt Island. Zones detailed include:

  • Zone I - Special Preservation
  • Zone II - Wilderness
  • Zone III - Natural Environment
  • Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Special Management Area

6.1 Zones

Zone I: Special Preservation

Zone I provides strong protection to several of the unique natural and cultural features of Quttinirpaaq National Park. Motorized use within these sites is not allowed, except for exceptional circumstances, as permitted by the superintendent, upon the advice of the JPMC. Camping within the boundaries of a Zone I is not permitted. There are six Zone I areas.

Kettle Lake

The suite of cultural resources around Kettle Lake are representative of the High Arctic and includes features from both the Thule and Independence I cultures. In addition to the large, visible features, such as fox traps, tent rings, caches and hunting blinds, numerous smaller artifacts remain in situ, though some have been removed for conservation. Because of its proximity to the Tanquary Fiord base camp, it is an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience ancient and recent arctic history in the company of Parks Canada staff or a Parks Canada trained guide. While less preferred, independent day-use visitation is permitted with the support of a self-guided brochure, following orientation from park staff. Kettle Lake resources are monitored regularly.

Fort Conger

The buildings and historical artefacts at Discovery Harbour are known collectively as Fort Conger; the Peary Huts are designated “classified” by the Federal Heritage Building Review Office (FHBRO). They are the combined remains of American and European High Arctic Exploration base camps established by George Nares, Adolphus Greely, and Robert Peary between 1875 and 1909. Greely’s 1881-1883’s scientific studies were part of the First International Polar Year, which is designated an event of national historical significance and the site is uniquely situated to demonstrate the contributions Inuit made to the success of Arctic explorers. Contamination is a concern at the site, and appropriate signage has been installed. While the features themselves are considered vulnerable and at risk due to climate change, the obstacles and limitations are such that a relatively low level of human visitation is expected and does not need to be prevented. A target of this plan is to develop a strategy for sharing this site through Parks Canada trained guides. Until that time, visitors must be accompanied by Parks Canada employees. Toddlers and infants, who are more susceptible to the contaminants, are not allowed to visit the site.

Lewis Lake

Arctic wolves have been denning in the vicinity of Lewis Lake for what appears to be several thousand years. The den site here is integral to the seasonal cycle of wolf populations, and there is a history of past disturbance to the pack. The lake lies along the major long-distance hiking route in the park. A Zone I designation provides a 3 km buffer surrounding the lake and den. Non-motorized access is permitted but camping is not. All visitors will be informed of the importance of not disturbing the wolves.

Porsild’s Bryum Protection

Porsild’s Bryum is a small, rare, cushion moss growing in a limited number of colonies globally. It favours moist, shady locations at higher elevations. Listed as threatened by the Species at Risk Act, there are three known populations in Nunavut, and they are all in the Tanquary Fiord area of Quttinirpaaq National Park. These three pockets are considered critical habitat and classified Zone I for their protection. While access is permitted in these areas, the visitor orientation stresses the importance of walking on hard surfaces and not stopping to linger, as the moss could be inadvertently damaged. The National Recovery Strategy to monitor known populations will be implemented and surveys for additional populations will take place during the lifespan of this plan, subject to funding. If found, appropriate protective management actions will be taken on advice from species experts and the JPMC.

Zone II: Wilderness

The majority of the park is Zone II, Wilderness. Zone II provides visitors with the opportunity to experience this essential wilderness, relatively undisturbed, where suggested routes are unmarked, and unmaintained, and still require a level of skills to find ones way.

Limited access by aircraft may be permitted on a case by case basis. Winter/spring access to Mount Barbeau and other glaciated areas was identified as an adventure ski opportunity which would be greatly simplified by air access. Due to seasonal changes, however, a specific landing location cannot be identified so these requests will be considered individually.

Zone III: Natural Environment

Zone III areas provide opportunity for low-impact visitor experiences. These are the areas of the park with the greatest levels of access and activity. The majority of park infrastructure and major access points for the park have been designated Zone III. The size of these zones has been modified somewhat from the previous plan to fit more closely with current use patterns and to simplify permitting. Controlled motorized use is permitted in these areas but users, except for park operations, require a permit. Aircraft access is limited to businesses running commercial operations in the Park.

Three Zone III areas are current Parks Canada operational sites. This includes: Tanquary Fiord Base of Operations; Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp; and Ward Hunt Island. For all three sites, Zone III encompasses the buildings and airstrips as indicated on the inset maps.

For Tanquary Fiord, the fiord itself, the shoreline around camp, and a small strip of shoreline north of the MacDonald River outflow is also Zone III to allow for small vessel landings. Private yacht access is permitted.

At the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp, the Zone III was extended to allow planes to land on the lake when ice-covered, as this is a safer option in the spring. An additional Zone III extension over land is solely for the purpose of boring for materials to repair the airstrips, which should happen at a distance from the lake that prohibits runoff.

It should be noted that Ward Hunt Island is not yet part of Quttinirpaaq National Park of Canada, although Parks Canada administers this land. Once the island is included within the land description of the park in the Canada National Parks Act, initiatives for the island will be implemented.

A fourth, and new Zone III includes the northern entrance to Discovery Harbour, and the shoreline of a small bay and unmaintained airstrip immediately west of Fort Conger. Zoning this Natural Environment allows for simplified permitting of aircraft landings, allows cruise ship zodiac landings on the beach and permits private yacht access. (See Map 4b).

The final two small Zone III sites are two DND microwave towers and stations. DND makes frequent helicopter visits to these sites during the summer season for maintenance. Visitor access is not permitted.

7.0 Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin Management Area

Lake Hazen, or Tasialuk, as it is known to many Inuit, is the deepest lake north of the Arctic Circle. The unique conditions of the Lake’s drainage basin, with a mountain range to the north, and a plateau to the south, create a micro-climate that is warmer and thus, more fertile, than the surrounding polar desert. Because of this, the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin ( Map 5) is considered a polar oasis, with meadows of lush grasses and marshes of flowers a stark contrast to the largely unproductive landscape found elsewhere in the High Arctic.

The Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin is nestled in a natural corridor between mountain and glacier along the route known as the Muskox Way, a migration corridor for Independence I people across northern Ellesmere to Greenland. The density of recorded archeological sites in this area demonstrate its importance to multiple groups of people spanning over 4000 years, from Paleo-Inuit, to Thule and to Greenlandic Inughuit cultures more recently. The biodiversity of the entire region has provided food and shelter for those who passed through, those who stayed, and those who came simply to harvest resources. For these reasons, the entire Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin was initially designated Zone I in the first management plan.

Visitation in the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin has been low in the past few years, however there are numerous hiking opportunities in the area, including a part of the Muskox Way. Furthermore, Lake Hazen/Tasialuk has already been the subject of important scientific research documenting its sensitivity to climate change and the unprecedented changes to hydrology, nutrients, temperature, algae growth, ice cover and fish conditions over the past 300 years.

Taking an area management approach to this region highlights the importance of maintaining a high level of protection for this very special naturally and culturally sensitive region, while ensuring that continued research and small-scale visitation is consistent with Parks Canada zoning in other locations as we shift the zoning from a Zone I to a Zone II. (Note, the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp is a small Zone III within this management area.) The area management approach is an opportunity to specifically consider the opportunities and challenges in this geographical area.

The following objectives have been defined to address the management issues in the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin.

Objective 1

Use Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and science to ensure human use does not negatively affect the ecological values of the area.

  • An environmental code of conduct, developed with the JPMC, will guide use of the area and be recommended for Inuit users as well.
  • Knowledge gaps around ecological integrity are identified.
  • Seek funding or partnerships for active management or monitoring as identified in the knowledge gap analysis.
  • Re-zoning to Zone I for sites where evidence justifies.
  • Analysis of operations at Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Camp ensures all activity is aligned with the long term goal of ensuring the ecological integrity and protection of Lake Hazen/ Tasialuk in light of the continued changes expected due to climate change.

Objective 2

To ensure that human use does not negatively affect cultural resources.

  • All users of the Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Basin are provided detailed information regarding appropriate behaviour around archeological sites, and asked to report specific locations of any feature found.
  • Camping areas will be identified and promoted along the Very River in locations where there are no cultural resources.
  • Promote known hiking routes away from previously identified archaeological sites.
  • Culturally sensitive areas are considered when reviewing research and special activity requests.
  • Confirm locations of cultural resources as opportunities allow.
  • Re-zone specific areas to Zone I if assessment justifies this action.
Map 5: Tasialuk/Lake Hazen Management Area, text description follows
Map 5: Tasialuk/Lake Hazen Management Area - Text version

Map showing the Tasialuk/Lake Hazen Management Area in Quttinirpaaq National Park. Areas include:

  • Lake Hazen/Tasialuk Special Management Area
  • Zone i - Special Preservation
  • Zone II - Wilderness
  • Zone III - Natural Environment
  • Cultural resources are marked with purple circles

8.0 Summary of Strategic Environmental Assessment

In accordance with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010), a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all management plans. The purpose of SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making. Individual projects undertaken to implement management statement objectives at Quttinirpaaq National Park will be evaluated to determine if assessment is required under the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act.

The scope of the SEA included the area within the park boundary and considered influences from stressors outside of the park. The time frame considered was ten years from the date of the plan, at which time the plan will be reviewed. Valued Components evaluated included the tundra (vegetation, active layer, Peary Caribou, Polar Bear, Porsild's Bryum) and freshwater (water quality, Arctic Char) ecosystems.

Valued Components were found to not be significantly at risk from cumulative effects, as the primary stressor to the Park's natural environment is the changing global environment. The management plan includes approaches to understand impacts to these valued components including:

  1. Connecting with partners, stakeholders, and Inuit from the park’s adjacent communities to promote and strengthen regional collaboration related to understanding impacts of the changing global environment on the park's natural systems, and
  2. Continuing the active involvement of Inuit in the management and operations of Quttinirpaaq.

Engagement with the public and Inuit was conducted on the plan, including a summary of the SEA, and results used to inform the SEA and management plan.

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