Annual management plan implementation update 2021-2022

Ukkusiksalik National Park

The Ukkusiksalik National Park Management Plan (2018) identifies the long-term strategic direction and management goals for Ukkusiksalik National Park (UNP). The plan is consistent with the Nunavut Agreement, the Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement for Ukkusiksalik National Park (IIBA), and the Parks Canada Agency (PCA) mandate. Ukkusiksalik National Park is cooperatively managed with the Ukkusiksalik Park Management Committee (UPMC) established under the IIBA.

This Annual Implementation Update provides a status report on PCA’s progress in implementing the key strategies and objectives of the management plan.

Two Parks Canada staff standing in front of a park exhibit
From left to right: Leesee Papatsie and Bernice Malliki attending the opening of the UNP exhibit at the Kivalliq Regional Visitor Centre in Rankin Inlet.

Table of contents

COVID-19 Response

On March 18, 2020, Parks Canada closed all Nunavut sites to visitors, including researchers and business license holders, under a Superintendent’s Order. For UNP, this Order was in effect for most of the 2021-22 fiscal year, and remains in effect as of the date of this report. Please note that these prohibitions do 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 the 2021-22 fiscal year. Notably, most of the field season, planned travel, and in-person meetings were canceled. This significantly impacted activities related to community engagement and outreach, ecological integrity monitoring, cultural resource monitoring, and cooperative management. While work on many of the guide’s key strategies and objectives were delayed, progress was made wherever possible as described below.

Strategy 1: Infrastructure – Ensuring that appropriate facilities are available for protection, presentation, and promotion of Ukkusiksalik National Park.

Objective 1.1: A base of operations and hard-sided shelters are available in the park.

  • Base of operations: The identification of infrastructure and asset needs for a base of operations in UNP is ongoing; a temporary camp has been established near the Sila airstrip in the meantime to provide a safe place for staff to work until a formal base of operations is established as per the infrastructure plan.
  • Infrastructure development plan: A draft UNP infrastructure development plan was finalized and submitted to the Field Unit Superintendent in 2021-22 and is expected to be amended and approved in 2022-23. The plan outlines asset requirements to conduct operations efficiently and safely, to support Inuit harvesting activities, to facilitate research and monitoring activities, and to welcome visitors.
  • Hard-sided shelters: In total, UNP currently has four “MonGazebo” prefabricated shelters either in-use or ready for installation: one installed in the temporary camp, one that was transported into the park in April 2021 for installation in 2022-23 (staff completed a test build in Summer 2021 in the UNP garage), and two others in Naujaat awaiting transportation into the park in 2022-23. A site assessment of the Douglas Harbour secondary camp is ongoing.

Objective 1.2: Access routes and points, safe harbours, sensitive sites, and other features are identified and communicated to park users.

  • Access routes, safe harbors, sensitive sites, and other features: PCA is now using a standardized template to collect information and assess opportunities at sites relating to access routes, landing sites, safe harbors, emergency shelters, equipment caches, sensitive sites and other features of interest to support visitor experience opportunities, and for educational and promotional purposes. Work to collect this information and incorporate pertinent details into visitor experience products will continue in 2022-23.
  • Park exhibits: Three exhibits were installed in Naujaat (UNP Parks Canada Office), Rankin Inlet (Kivalliq Regional Visitor Centre), and in Baker Lake (Akumalik Visitor Centre). Each exhibit included large, touchable 3D maps as well as information panels highlighting five places special to Inuit in the park (Nuvuk&liit, Ak&lungitautitalik, Pipsimaniq River, Tinittuktuq, and Tasuiyaq (Hudson Bay Company Post)). Additional panels highlighting key interpretive stories specific to each community - including words, quotes, photos, and illustrations - were also displayed.

Strategy 2: Living Landscape – Strengthening people’s connections to Ukkusiksalik National Park.

Objective 2.1: Inuit connections to Ukkusiksalik National Park are strengthened and shared.

  • Community outreach programs: Due to COVID-19 public health measures, all outreach activities were postponed in 2021-22. PCA hopes to reinitiate public outreach programs in 2022-23, such as the radio story time program that was developed in 2020 to feature Inuit Knowledge collected from the Wager Bay Oral History Report.
  • Ukkusiksalik Park Management Committee meetings: Due to office closures and inability to meet in-person, it was a challenge to hold UPMC meetings throughout the 2021-22 fiscal year. Nevertheless, the UPMC held six teleconferences between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

Objective 2.2: Opportunities for park visitors to experience the landscape and hear the stories of Ukkusiksalik.

  • Interpretive product development: In support of the exhibit project (Objective 1.2), staff created a comprehensive reference document for five priority sites that have special significance to Inuit in UNP. This document was the foundation for the exhibit displays, and will support the development of future interpretive products.
  • Wildlife viewing guidelines: Updated wildlife viewing guidelines for park users were drafted, and are ready for review by the UPMC and the Inuit Knowledge Working Group (IKWG). Work will continue on these guidelines in 2022-23 in coordination with the development of a visitor hiking guide (see below).
  • Virtual park visits: Work continued on the trilingual virtual tour of the five places special to Inuit that were highlighted in the community exhibits to reach a broader audience. The tour will be developed via a StoryMaps digital presentation, including sound clips and National Film Board footage.
  • In-park visitor experiences: In tandem with the draft wildlife viewing guidelines, the first draft of a visitor hiking guide was developed in 2021-22, and PCA anticipates finalizing the document for review with the UPMC in 2022-23. Additionally, PCA initiated another call for interested bidders to develop a seal skin tent program this year, with limited success. Work on this project will also continue in 2022-23.

Strategy 3: Gathering Knowledge – Collecting scientific information and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit in support of protecting, presenting and promoting Ukkusiksalik National Park’s natural and cultural resources.

Objective 3.1: Scientific information and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit are collected to determine the current health of Ukkusiksalik National Park’s ecosystems and to detect changes in the future.

  • Marine ecosystem monitoring program: The remote sensing component of the monitoring program is being led by PCA’s National Office (i.e., sea ice coverage and phenology, aquatic productivity/Chlorophyll A, water surface temperature) is already in place and on-going (although validation and ground truthing are needed). PCA has considered a number of different options for the implementation of the marine ecosystem field measure, which are ready to be discussed and reviewed by the IKWG and then the UPMC.
  • Terrestrial (tundra) ecosystem monitoring program: Monitoring data could not be collected in 2021 due to COVID-19 public health measures. However, a frost tube was installed in Spring 2022, and park staff received training on its use for future field seasons.
  • Baseline data: Reports from the research team that conducted the marine baseline data collection project in 2016 were made available to PCA staff, and a compiled report that includes an Inuit Knowledge chapter with recommendations on next steps is underway. PCA anticipates that an updated version of this report will be ready for review by the research team in 2022-23.

Objective 3.2: Scientific information and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit are being used to inform and support long term management decisions.

  • Inuit Knowledge Working Group framework: Development of a mechanism for incorporating input from the IKWG into management decisions is ongoing. A framework has been drafted and is ready for review by the IKWG when regular meetings resume in 2022-23.
  • Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and elder’s stories: Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and elders’ stories about UNP are incorporated in the three community exhibits that were installed in Naujaat, Rankin Inlet, and Baker Lake (see also Objective 1.2).
  • Research priorities and wildlife surveys: Due to COVID-19 public health measures, a workshop to identify gaps and research priorities that was planned for 2021 was postponed. A caribou survey was completed in June 2021 by the Government of Nunavut.

Objective 3.3: Progress has been made towards identifying and protecting the cultural resources that tell Ukkusiksalik National Park’s story.

  • Hudson’s Bay Company post stabilization and interpretation: No additional stabilization work or interpretive programming is currently planned for the site. The site is difficult to access and will not be promoted as a site for visitors to explore.
  • Monitoring program for cultural resources at threat: At least three cultural resources located at this site (i.e., former HBC buildings) are known to be at threat, based on previous monitoring. Minor maintenance and clean up occurred at the site this year, however regular monitoring duties did not occur due to COVID-19 public health restrictions; they are anticipated to recommence in 2022-23.
  • Inventory of cultural sites: A cultural resource management implementation plan has been drafted by PCA staff to help achieve relevant management plan targets and prioritize the extensive cultural resource management work required in UNP. The draft plan focuses on two or three important cultural sites identified through advice of UPMC and describes an approach to implement the relevant targets. The plan is ready for review by the UPMC, and PCA expects that it will be finalized in 2022-23.

Next steps

Parks Canada’s Nunavut Field Unit and the Ukkusiksalik Park Management Committee are looking forward to another successful year ahead. Plans for 2022-23 are being adjusted in response to the evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. Key initiatives for the upcoming year include:

  • Finalizing the infrastructure plan and the Inuit Knowledge Framework with the UPMC and Inuit Knowledge Working Group;
  • Strengthening the capacity of the UPMC by delivering training to members on the IIBA, governance, and their role in park management, and improving committee administration;
  • Continuing the development of the park’s ecological integrity monitoring program;
  • Initiating the development of cultural resource monitoring programs; and,
  • Reviewing research priorities with the UPMC.

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