Annual management plan implementation update 2018

Sirmilik National Park

The Sirmilik National Park Management Plan identifies the long-term strategic direction and management goals for Sirmilik National Park (SNP). The plan is consistent with the Nunavut Agreement, the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Auyuittuq, Quttinirpaaq and Sirmilik National Parks, 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.

This 2018 update is PCA’s annual progress report on the implementation of the management plan for partners, stakeholders, and the public.

Two adults and three children standing in front of an igloo.
Sirmilik National Park Igloo Building Work Shop, Pond Inlet, NU. Building Workshop, Pond Inlet NU.

Table of contents

Strategy 1: Celebrating the special connection between Sirmilik National Park and the Inuit of Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay.

Objective 1.1: Inuit are encouraged to use the park with their families and to connect with the land through traditional activities.


  • Park staff regularly inform the public that Inuit have free and unrestricted access to the park, and have developed two programs specifically to increase community connection to SNP:
    • Park staff hosted the second annual “Return of the Sun” celebration on Bylot Island at sunrise on January 29th and hosted a community feast and games on February 4th.
    • On April 21st Parks Canada hosted a well-attended Igloo building workshop in Eclipse Sound near Pond Inlet.
  • Every year, park staff host a community BBQ and games in Pond Inlet to celebrate Parks Day. In 2018, staff travelled to Arctic Bay to host a Parks Day celebration there for the first time.

Objective 1.2: Inuit are effectively involved in park management decisions.

  • In 2018, the JPMC had two face to face meetings and one teleconference.
  • The JPMC chair participated in a UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List Workshop on November 6 and 7, 2018 in Ottawa to understand what it means to be a World Heritage Site, the funding opportunities that might be available to World Heritage Sites, and how to prepare a World Heritage Site nomination in order to be better able to provide advice on this initiative for Sirmilik.
  • In July, Inuit staff acted as the Sirmilik National Park Manager, making management decisions throughout the acting period.
  • Feedback from JPMC members to the park manager indicate they feel engaged and that their opinions are respected.

Objective 1.3: Inuit participate in and benefit from economic opportunities arising from the presence of the park.

  • In 2018, seven of eight (88%) SNP employees were local Inuit.
  • Two Inuit summer students were hired to assist with education and outreach programs.
  • In 2018, 18 Inuit contractors such as janitorial staff, construction workers, translators, interpreters, and maintenance workers were hired by PCA to provide services for the park.
  • The single licenced Inuit outfitter from Pond Inlet has applied for and received an annual business licence since 2017, providing services to individuals, and other companies.
  • Numerous local Inuit from Pond Inlet are hired for transportation services by researchers and southern tourism operators seeking to access SNP and the surrounding area, as encouraged by PCA.
  • Parks Canada hired 9 performers and story tellers to provide programming for the semi-annual Students on Ice visit in July.
  • Sirmilik National Park is part of the attraction for cruise ships to the region. In 2018, 18 cruise ships landed in Pond Inlet and injected approximately $100,000 to the local economy through cultural performances, translators, guides, purchased artwork and transportation.

Objective 1.4: The stories and knowledge of Inuit are shared with all park visitors.

  • All interpretive programs and special events are infused with Inuit stories and perspectives.
  • Park staff provided support and Inuit-based programming at the Nattinak Visitor Centre and the Park Office to community visitors during the busy summer season.
  • For the igloo building workshop mentioned in Objective 1.1, PCA hired local elders to provide the expertise and transfer of knowledge from elders to youth and visitors.
  • Sirmilik’s Festival of Birds 2018 events were held in both Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay. Elders were hired to share traditional knowledge of birds and habitats to both community members and visitors.
  • Qaiqsut Interpretive program was in development in 2018 and focuses on the site’s importance to Inuit.

Strategy 2: Developing Sirmilik National Park’s visitor experience program.

Objective 2.1: Parks Canada, the tourism industry and government partners will identify and promote visitor experience opportunities including an iconic arctic experience that will take place in the park.

  • In 2017, PCA began developing a multi-day hiking offer on the south side of Bylot Island. Work on this project in 2018 included assessing stream crossings; meeting with outfitters who know the route; and work with Qikiqitani Inuit Association to coordinate access to Inuit Owned Land.
  • In 2018, 303 people visited Sirmilik. This is a substantial increase from the average of the previous 5 years, of 166.
  • In 2017, the Nunavut Field Unit entered into a partnering agreement with Adventure Canada to develop and test visitor offers for cruise ships in Nunavut parks. While the sites of interest in the 2015 SNP management plan have proved less than ideal, in 2018 the ship and her 202 passengers successfully visited Tay Bay for the second time and guidelines for future visits are in development. The JPMC has been a part of the conversation surrounding potential landing sites.
  • Note: Parks Canada has dropped the Iconic Experience program, however, Adventure Canada’s Sail the Northwest Passage trips are Destination Canada designated Signature Canadian Experiences.

Objective 2.2: Tourism partners and the communities of Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay support visitor experiences within the park, and offer visitor experiences in the communities that complement park excursions.

  • Parks Canada issued one business licence to a local outfitter (Tagak Outfitting) in Pond Inlet to provide transportation services into the Park.
  • In addition, Parks Canada issued three licences to non-local businesses including Adventure Canada (Cruise Ship Company), Arctic Kingdom (Flow Edge Tourism Company), and Black Feather (Outdoor Adventure Company) who hired or contracted community members, as encouraged by PCA.
  • Parks Canada hosted Parks Day and Bird Festival activities in Arctic Bay, as both a community and visitor experience activity.

Objective 2.3: All park users are able to undertake safe and enjoyable experiences as a result of effective visitor safety planning, prevention, and response in cooperation with partners.

  • There were no visitor safety incidents in Sirmilik in 2018.

Strategy 3: Increasing knowledge and awareness of Sirmilik National Park.

Objective 3.1: Community outreach is enhanced to improve communication about research, monitoring and traditional knowledge.

  • Inuit Knowledge Working Groups (IKWG) were established early on in the life of the park to foster knowledge exchange between communities and park staff. In 2018, the Pond Inlet IKWG met 8 times and the Artic Bay IKWG met 4 times to discuss different projects.
  • Park staff supported and participated in a community workshop with long term researchers to discuss community concerns and interests for future research in the region.
  • Park staff organized community talks for researchers working in SNP to share research results within the community of Pond Inlet in June and July.
  • Two summer students are hired annually to improve community outreach and education.
  • As per Parks Canada’s Research and Collection Permit conditions, researchers are required to submit annual field reports to the Hamlets and Hunters and Trappers Organizations.
  • Inuit elders were hired to report on observed changes in environmental conditions as part of the Ecological Integrity Monitoring Program (Objective 3.2).

Objective 3.2: Knowledge of the park’s ecosystems, cultural resources, and Inuit history and culture is increased by research, monitoring, and the best practice of incorporating Inuit knowledge.

  • Five measures have been established for the tundra ecological integrity indicator, with 2 remote sensing measures and 2 measures collected by park staff. For glacier monitoring, 3 measures have been established, one collected by park staff and another by remote sensing. All data collection was completed in 2018.
  • Pilot programs are in place to collect Inuit Knowledge as the additional measures for both tundra and glacier ecological integrity indicators.
  • Park staff completed Cultural Resource monitoring at Qaiqsut in July.
  • All research that took place in the park and their resulting field reports were reviewed by JPMC members. Two of the 14 research projects hired Inuit as team members for projects in the park, while other Inuit were hired by some of the project teams who also had work outside the park.
  • Three research teams jointly led the community research workshop detailed in Objective 3.1.
  • In September PCA staff assisted the department of Fisheries and Oceans in conducting narwhal tagging and research in Tremblay Sound, adjacent to Sirmilik National Park.

Objective 3.3: Park ecosystems, cultural resources, and Inuit culture and history outreach and education products and programs are developed, delivered, and promoted in cooperation with other organizations.

  • Parks Canada staff and a Sirmilik JPMC member attended the Montreal Outdoor Adventure Show in April 2018 to promote Nunavut National Parks, including SNP, and Inuit culture.
  • In 2018, park staff established a program of annual meetings with staff at the Health Centre, Elementary School, High School, and Government of Nunavut to provide information on the park, the requirement of orientation and registration, an update on current research activities, and Inuit culture and involvement in park management.

Area management: Bylot Island

Objective 7.1: Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association cooperate and coordinate their management of Bylot Island and simplify permitting and management.

  • Steps were made to coordinate efforts between the Sirmilik JPMC and the Asungasungaat Area Co-management Committee (ACMC) for Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary: an ACMC representative is invited to participate in the Sirmilik JPMC meetings.
  • CWS reviews and co-signs Parks Canada research permits for projects taking place in the joint management portions of Bylot Island.
  • Park Staff started the discussion with QIA and CWS on streamlining the permitting process for hikers traversing SNP and Inuit Owned Land on Bylot Island.

Objective 7.2: Facilitate visitor access and increase the visitor experience program and communication products related to Inuit activities, cultural resources and the rich environment on Bylot Island.

  • The target for this objectives specifies development of a visitor experience for cruise ships at Qaiqsut, however, this has not proved feasible for large cruise ship companies. The interpretive offer being developed for this site is focused on Inuit use and smaller cruise ships such as Students on Ice.

Objective 7.3: Support the continued operation of the Goose Camp Research Facility while promoting the safety of people using the facility and ensuring minimal environmental impacts from the camp’s operations.

  • The Licence of Occupation and accompanying operation and management agreement between PCA and Université Laval for Goose Camp has not yet been initiated. The development of the Licence of Occupation is a priority for 2019.

Conclusion — Next steps

Considerable work has been undertaken since the signing of the management plan in 2016. Some of the key items that Parks Canada expects to address in 2019 include:

  • The community of Arctic Bay’s request to build a cabin in the Elwin Inlet area;
  • Development of a communication product in partnership with the QIA to convey the existence of National Parks and to encourage Inuit use of the park;
  • Finalize an interpretation program for small groups at Qaiqsut;
  • Complete a Licence of Occupation and an accompanying agreement for the operation and management of the Goose Camp research facility;
  • Continue to encourage more Inuit to apply for and benefit from having a park business license;
  • Facilitate a community funding opportunities meeting to increase economic prospects for Inuit in Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay; and
  • Identify Cruise Ship and aircraft landing sites.

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