Annual management plan implementation update 2021-2022
Quttinirpaaq National Park
The Quttinirpaaq National Park Management Plan (2009) identifies the long-term strategic direction and management goals for Canada’s most northern and second-largest national park. The plan is consistent with the Nunavut Agreement, the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Auyuittuq, Quttinirpaaq and Sirmilik National Parks (IIBA), and the Parks Canada Agency (PCA) mandate. In accordance with the Baffin IIBA, Quttinirpaaq National Park (QuNP) is cooperatively managed with the Quttinirpaaq Joint Inuit/Government Park Planning and Management Committee (JPMC).
The QuNP management plan currently in force and effect is at the end of its 10-year legislative lifecycle (2009-2019). A new management plan was drafted and ready for public consultations in 2020; however, all engagement activities were delayed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Consultations are now ongoing as of the date of this report, and it is anticipated that the new management plan will be tabled in Parliament in 2023. In the interim, the intended future direction for QuNP outlined in the draft plan has been informative in decision-making wherever possible.
This Annual Implementation Update therefore provides a status report on PCA’s progress throughout the 2021-22 fiscal year in implementing the strategic goals of the 2009 management plan and, wherever possible, highlights alignment with the 2020 draft management plan.
- COVID-19 Response
- Priority 1: To manage the use of Quttinirpaaq in order to protect and maintain its ecological integrity, cultural resources and Arctic wilderness experiences
- Priority 2: To describe and understand park ecosystems through science and Inuit traditional knowledge and through the stories and knowledge of the people who have a long connection to the area, and to incorporate this information in heritage presentations
- Priority 3: To improve site-specific ecological integrity through Environmental Management System measures, local clean-ups, and site remediation
- Priority 4: To identify the state of Inuit archaeological sites and historical artifacts in the park by monitoring representative and unique sites
- Priority 5: To communicate the results of an active research and monitoring program, emphasizing global environmental change, in order to make Quttinirpaaq relevant to Canadians
- Priority 6: To build awareness, understanding and support of Quttinirpaaq with Canadians, visitors, and the residents of Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay through innovation in heritage presentation
- Priority 7: To increase the community tourism capacity of and the tourism benefits for Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay in partnership with others
- Priority 8: To continue to manage Quttinirpaaq cooperatively
- Priority 9: To aim to have a representative level of Inuit employment in the Nunavut Field Unit of Parks Canada by 2020
- Priority 10: To initiate, maintain, and nurture key partnerships for science, cultural resources management, logistics, tourism and marketing, and education
- Priority 11: To develop a suite of indicators and targets for the management of Quttinirpaaq
- Success story
- Next steps
On March 18, 2020, Parks Canada closed all Nunavut sites to visitors, including researchers and business licence holders, under a Superintendent’s Order. For QuNP, this Order was in effect for nearly the entire 2021-22 fiscal year; in response to the easing of public health measures in Nunavut, PCA reopened the park to the public on March 18, 2022 and it remains open as of the date of this report. Importantly, the Order’s prohibitions did not and will never apply to Nunavut Inuit, whose free and unrestricted right of access to all PCA sites in Nunavut for the purpose of engaging in rights-based activities is provided in the Nunavut Agreement.
The COVID-19 global pandemic had significant impacts on PCA’s Nunavut Field Unit (NFU) operations in QuNP during the 2021-22 fiscal year. Notably, the majority of the field season, planned travel, and in-person meetings were cancelled. Progress was made in advancing management plan priorities wherever possible as described below.
- To improve the condition of the Lake Hazen camp and to address environmental and occupational health and safety concerns, work began to document and demolish the barrel shed structure. This work will continue throughout the 2022-23 fiscal year.
- The development of a new management plan has renewed the need for an asset plan that meets the long-term needs of park operations, management, and research. In the interim, a concept for the redesign of the Lake Hazen camp was initiated as part of the barrel shed demolition project. The University of Alberta offered a structure donation to the park in 2021-22, which will be helpful in addressing ongoing storage and health and safety issues in the camp.
- PCA staff conduct impact assessments annually on all research, infrastructure, and visitor activities in the park, and the JPMC provides advice on mitigation of threats to cultural resources on an as needed basis.
- There were no public safety occurrences in QuNP during the 2021-22 fiscal year. The Nunavut Public Safety Plan is currently undergoing its regular five-year review, which will continue into 2022-23. Additionally, the Operational Guide for Emergency Response is updated annually and the Emergency Fact Sheets are updated twice annually, both of which are shared with PCA’s partners and staff this year.
- Research priorities were last updated for the park in 2011 based on advice from the JPMC, and are available online. In 2021-22, four multi-year permits remained valid in QuNP (three of which were for long-term projects); however, there was no field work completed under these permits due to the pandemic. One permit was renewed in 2021-22 for char monitoring, and limited fieldwork was conducted by a collaboration of staff from PCA and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).
- To encourage Canadian and international researchers, scientific organizations, and postsecondary institutions to conduct research in QuNP focusing on PCA’s priorities, a call letter was distributed widely to researchers on January 7, 2022. The Nunavut Field Unit (NFU) depends on the cooperation and support of outside researchers. For example, PCA is working closely with the Environmental Sciences Group of the Royal Military College to continue its environmental monitoring program for contaminants at Fort Conger, as well as with ECCC on long-term monitoring on water quality (one water sample taken from the snowgoose river), water flow, Hazen Lake ice thickness, and on contaminants found in char. The need for active involvement of Inuit in research was reiterated in the distributed letter.
- The sea ice in Tanquary Fiord was included as critical habitat in ECCC’s 2021 Recovery Strategy for Peary Caribou. PCA provided input on the draft strategy in 2021-22, and will continue to work in collaboration with other federal partners to address enhanced protection considerations. PCA attended ECCC’s presentation of the draft strategy to the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board for approval on March 9, 2022, and also continued to participate directly in other species-at-risk recovery programs related to QuNPthis year, including the National Polar Bear Technical Advisory Committee and the Polar Bear Administrative Committee.
- There are several monitoring programs in place in QuNP, including the International Tundra Experiment/Canadian Tundra and Taiga Experiment monitoring program, and the Circumpolar Active Layer monitoring program (CALM). These were both completed in 2021-22.
- Field data collection at Fort Conger contaminated site was not completed in 2021-22 due to pandemic restrictions, but satellite imagery was acquired for analysis as per the site monitoring plan. Reporting on contaminated sites was completed as required and a request for ongoing funding for management of the Fort Conger contaminated site was submitted for 2022-23. Physical remediation of contaminated sites at Tanquary Fiord, Lake Hazen, and Ward Hunt Island was complete as of 2018, and regular on-site monitoring duties are anticipated to resume in 2022-23.
- New incinerators were installed at Lake Hazen and Tanquary Fiord in 2018 to contend with human waste. Maintenance took place in 2019 to ensure that they are working efficiently. Additional maintenance was planned for 2020-21, but was deferred to 2022-23 due to COVID-19 public health measures restricting contractors from entering the park this year.
- Although QuNP was closed for the majority of 2021-22, work continued in the development of future visitation guidelines for Fort Conger. Prior to entering the park, all visitors must receive an orientation that includes actions to support cultural resource protection. A five-year study (2018-2023) is also underway at Fort Conger to assess wood sealants for their use to preserve the buildings.
- Archaeological sites were monitored by PCA staff in 2021-22 to assess any potential threats to the park’s cultural heritage resources, and no threats were identified. However, evaluation of vulnerable sites at Fort Conger, including assessment of the Peary Huts, was not possible due logistical challenges (i.e., lack of helicopter availability) and restrictions related to COVID-19.
- A Cultural Resource Impact Assessment was prepared for future infrastructure work to be completed at Lake Hazen. Work also progressed on the completion of a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment throughout 2021-22, and the first draft of a Climate Change Summary Fact Sheet was completed to help identify mitigation measures related to climate change impacts for cultural resources in the park.
- Monitoring protocols for Kettle Lake, Blister Creek, and Fort Conger were revised, updated, and implemented in 2019. Monitoring protocol for the site known as Hunters Wall was also developed and carried out in 2021-22.
- Archaeological permits issued by PCA include conditions defined by PCA at the National Office level. They relate to the archaeological methods to be followed and recording standards. Some permits also include confidential information about avoiding specific archaeological sites.
- Fieldwork related to the ecological integrity monitoring program for freshwater and tundra ecosystems was conducted where possible throughout the 2021-22 fiscal year. In addition, the team conducting a multi-year biodiversity research project in Alert (Dominique Berteaux from the University of Quebec in Rimouski) provided an update to PCA and the QuNP JPMC about Arctic hares’ use of land within the park.
- The team that conducted limited fieldwork in 2021-22 on research involving contaminants in char presented an in-person update to the Mayor of Resolute Bay and the Vice-President of the Resolute HTO in July 2021. In total, the research team caught 20 char fish by net in late summer.
- Researchers are required to provide information about the results of their research to all residents of Grise Fiord and/or Resolute Bay. PCA encourages these updates to take place in person, however opportunities for in-person presentations were limited in 2021-22 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on research and monitoring is also shared through the open data website of the Government of Canada.
- The QuNP JPMC provided additional input on the Kettle Lake Walking Tour document in 2021-22, which includes information about Inuit history, archaeological and cultural sites, and flora and fauna in the park.
- Virtually, information specific to QuNP was shared in nine online posts on the Parks Canada Nunavut Facebook page, which had a reach of 18,361 users. PCA is currently in the process of reformatting the Nunavut Field Unit web pages with a focus on ensuring that all virtual materials are available in Inuktitut.
- Work continued on outreach projects in 2021-22, including the development of an orientation and outreach kit featuring Inuit history, and the duplication of existing replicas of Paleo-Inuit stone tools for education opportunities. Planning for and development of programs that will feature these kits will continue in 2022-23.
- A final draft of the self-guided walking tour of archaeological resources at Kettle Lake (near Tanquary Fiord) was prepared in 2021-22 for review and final approval by the QuNP JPMC in 2022-23. The document shares Paleo-Eskimo, Dorset, and Thule history related to QuNP.
- When QuNP is open to visitors, PCA shares Visitor Information Packages with all potential visitors. The JPMC reviewed and provided feedback on the Visitor Information Packages, which are also available on the QuNP webpage. Detailed information is also provided directly to potential visitors and interested parties by phone and/or email upon request, and all visitors must attend an orientation session with PCA staff prior to entering the park.
- Annual training ensures that staff are prepared for appropriate public safety responses.
- Due to public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as member availability, vacancies, and technology limitations, it was challenging to host in-person or virtual JPMC meetings in the 2021-22 fiscal year. Nevertheless, three teleconference meetings were held, and quorum was achieved at two of them.
- The JPMC welcomed two new members to the committee - Rhoda Idlout from Resolute Bay and Annie Audlaluk from Grise Fiord - both Qikiqtani Inuit Association appointees. New members were provided with a verbal orientation upon appointment.
- PCA’s Inuit Employment Plan was renewed in 2019. Pilimmaksaivik, PCA legal services, PCA’s Indigenous Workforce Strategies team, and the five national parks’ Joint Inuit/Government Park Planning and Management Committees reviewed the Inuit Employment Plan. PCA Senior Vice-President of Operations approved the plan in April 2020.
- PCA continued to work closely with the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) in 2021-22, especially to align responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and to communicate resulting impacts to researchers. An agreement with PCSP is signed annually; however, in 2021-22, PCA also met to discuss research priorities in the North and agreed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is desirable for both parties. A designated working group was established to develop this agreement, and the Site Superintendent for ‘Nunavut North’ (i.e., Quttinirpaaq and Qausuittuq National Parks) was selected to be a member.
- During the park planning process, PCA committed to establishing a formal agreement with the Department of National Defence (DND) within three years. Meetings with DND to discuss this matter, as well as opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration in work completed in and around QuNP (e.g., PCA-facilitated access to the park to maintain critical DND equipment) continued in 2021-22. A draft MOU is now under review.
- PCA maintains partnerships with PCSP, DND, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, community Search and Rescue teams in Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay, Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, Trenton Rescue Coordination Centre, PCA Jasper Dispatch, and the public safety specialists of PCA for the purposes of providing public safety services.
- In addition, PCA collaborates with a number of post-secondary institutions and government departments for the purposes of data collection and information sharing in monitoring and research. For example, in 2021-22, the above-referenced char monitoring fieldwork was completed in collaboration with ECCC researchers.
- PCA shared information on wildlife research priorities of all national parks, including QuNP, with the NWMB in the fall of 2021.
- The ecological integrity indicators and targets for tundra and freshwater ecosystems are defined with baseline thresholds in place. In 2021-22, freshwater samples were collected at one of four identified sites, and 20 char were netted for mercury monitoring. Active layer and plant community monitoring programs were conducted in 2021, however some work could not be completed (i.e., water flow) or were only partly completed (i.e., plant phenology, freshwater monitoring) namely due to pandemic-related restrictions and other logistics such as lack of helicopter support. The Inuit Knowledge component of the program still needs to be developed for the park.
- In another year managing public health measures, site closures, and logistical challenges related to COVID-19, the Quttinirpaaq team was very excited to resume limited fieldwork in July 2021. Despite a significantly shortened season, a number of key projects were advanced. In particular, monitoring programs including those for the plant community, circumpolar active layer, cultural resources (for two of three sites), and for Kettle Lake and Blister Creek all resumed this year. A number of char (20 in total) were also caught and sampled for contamination, and notably, the long-anticipated work to remove the barrel shed at Lake Hazen and the human waste barrels from Tanquary Fiord was initiated. For the first time, QaNP and QuNP staff teams worked in a fully integrated and collaborative model in the field, and were able to successfully achieve a number of significant operational goals at a regional-level. The ‘Nunavut North’ team looks forward to building on this teamwork in the years ahead!
Parks Canada’s Nunavut Field Unit and the Quttinirpaaq JPMC are looking forward to another successful year ahead. Plans for 2021-22 are being adjusted in response to the evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. Key initiatives for the upcoming year include:
- Conducting public consultations on the draft management plan in anticipation of implementing the new management plan in 2023-24;
- Improving community relationships between Parks Canada and community members in Grise Fiord and Resolute through outreach programming such as community cultural workshops, school visits, and training and hiring opportunities; and,
- Advancing work on asset projects including the continuation of the barrel shed and human waste removal projects, which present occupational health and safety and environmental contamination risks.
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