Memorandum of Understanding Signed for Pituamkek (Hog Island and the Sandhills)
On January 19, 2022, the Government of Canada and the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils marked the successful conclusion of the feasibility assessment for a national park reserve in the Pituamkek (Hog Island – Sandhills) area with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding which begins negotiations towards a formal national park reserve agreement.
Parks Canada and L’nuey, on behalf of the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq leadership, continue to work in partnership to explore the best type of protection for the Pituamkek area. From the onset of this process, initiated by the Epekwitnewaq Mi’kmaq, the conservation and ongoing protection of these important places and landscapes has been at the forefront of discussions.
The establishment of a protected area will support and conserve the ecological integrity of the area and the wildlife that calls it home, as well as Mi’kmaq cultural sites, and important archaeological sites for future generations.
Hog Island Sandhills National Park Reserve Feasibility Study
On August 14, 2019, the PEI Mi’kmaq Governments of Lennox Island and Abegweit, along with the Government of Canada, announced a feasibility assessment to establish a national park reserve in the Hog Island Sandhills chain in northwestern Prince Edward Island.
The Hog Island Sandhills are very special to the Mi’kmaq people. The proposed national park would protect and preserve this special place, including its nature and its cultural sites for the Mi’kmaq, all Islanders and future generations of Canadians.
The Government of Canada and the First Nations, together with the Government of Prince Edward Island, along with the Island Nature Trust and Nature Conservancy Canada will participate in the feasibility assessment.
On June 4, 2021, Chief Darlene Bernard and Chief Junior Gould of the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable Steven Myers, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action for Prince Edward Island, announced they were launching public consultations as part of the feasibility assessment process to establish a national park reserve in the Pituamkek area (Hog Island Sandhills) of Malpeque Bay, PEI.
This begins the next phase in the assessment process. The information gathered during this public engagement phase of the feasibility assessment will assist the parties in finalizing a national park reserve concept. Once the feasibility assessment is complete and there is agreement on a formal park concept, the next step is negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), before moving to negotiations of a formal establishment agreement.
Pituamkek (Hog Island Sandhills) – A Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape
The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, with support from Parks Canada, created a short video that moves forward Reconciliation through a proposed new National Park Reserve to be located in Northwestern Prince Edward Island. This sacred stretch of Islands and sandhills was home to the Mi’kmaq peoples for more than 12,000 years. We must preserve and protect these precious lands and waters to ensure their survival for the Mi’kmaq and all for generations to come.
- What does the Feasibility Study include?
The Feasibility Study will include consultations with key stakeholders, communities and the public, as well as technical studies that analyse ecological, cultural and socio-economic information.
The study will determine whether or not creating a Hog Island – Sandhills National Park Reserve is feasible and, if so, defining the scope of the Park and outlining a path forward.
- Have the PEI Mi’kmaq entered into an agreement?
The PEI First Nations have agreed to collaborate on the Feasibility Study.
- Does this mean that Hog Island is becoming a National Park Reserve?
The study is a step toward creation of a National Park Reserve, a decision to proceed will be determined by the results of the Feasibility Study.
- How can the PEI Mi’kmaq take part in the Feasibility Study? What is the plan for consulting with community members?
There will be extensive public consultation; including, the engagement of the PEI Mi’kmaq. The First Nations governments have proposed the study and support the idea; the community engagement will seek detailed First Nations community feedback, as well as broad public input.
- What happens next?
A major component of the Study will be community consultation and engagement to ensure that any concerns are addressed and that there is Mi’kmaq community support to protect the lands through a National Park Reserve.
- What do the public consultations involve? How can people participate?
The public consultation will engage and inform Islanders, including Mi’kmaq communities, local community members, and stakeholders of the establishment process and provide opportunities for public feedback, ask questions, and complete an online survey. These consultations will be conducted remotely via online meeting platforms such as Webex starting in June 2021.
- How long is the consultation phase?
The public consultations will be open to public for a period of two months. The public will be provided comprehensive information packages on the project as well as online links to a survey for input.
- How long will it take to conduct the Feasibility Study?
The study was announcement in August 2019 and includes extensive consultation and technical studies. Due to restrictions around COVID-19, the consultation phase was delayed and is set to begin in summer 2021 and last for a period of two months.
- Does this Study consider the entire Sandhills chain or just Hog Island?
One objective of the Study is to define and recommend the size and scope of the proposed National Park Reserve.
- Is there potential for business or employment opportunities for the PEI Mi’kmaq and Mi’kmaq communities?
The study will include the assessment of the potential social, environmental and economic benefits of the proposed National Park Reserve.
- Will Mi’kmaq harvesting be affected by the establishment of a new park reserve?
The principal difference between a national park and a national park reserve is that the term “reserve” is used to recognize that there are unresolved claims of Aboriginal rights in the area. Prince Edward Island’s Mi’kmaq People will continue to freely participate in traditional land uses and spiritual activities, including traditional harvesting practices, and will be deeply involved in the cooperative management of the area with Parks Canada.
- What are the results of the feasibility study?
Recent public consultation clearly demonstrated the public desire for conservation and landscape integrity. Details can be found in the Parks “What we Heard” report click here
- What does signing this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) mean?
The signing of this MOU between the Government of Canada and the Mi’kmaq Leadership of PEI confirms that a national park reserve in Pituamkek is feasible and launches the negotiations towards a formal national park reserve establishment agreement. The signing of this MOU also confirms Parks Canada’s commitment to working closely with the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils, and L’nuey, on a national park reserve establishment. The MOU identifies the proposed boundary, as well as the significant topics to be undertaken during the negotiations.
- How were the current boundaries determined?
Conservation, protection and landscape integrity are all factors considered as the parties work toward the creation of this national park reserve and the boundaries being contemplated. The proposed working boundary includes important habitats for rare and endangered species and ecosystems; it also features places of Mi’kmaq cultural importance, numerous archaeological sites, and Mi’kmaw cultural landscapes.
- What land is currently being considered for the National Park Reserve?
Currently the only focus on land being considered as part of the National Park Reserve is the shaded areas of the map identified as the Pituamkek Working Boundary, while the dotted line indicates a broader area of Ecological and Cultural Interest, from which the working boundary was chosen.
- What is the area identified by the dotted line?
The area inside the dotted line, features lands with many of the same types of ecological and cultural significance as those within the working boundary.
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