What is Parks Canada?
By Micah Moen
What is Parks Canada? It is the steward of 47 national parks, one national urban park, five national marine conservation areas and 171 national historic sites, including 9 heritage canals that represent over 625 km of waterways. and a whole lot of passionate people! Canada was the first country in the world to establish a national park service…we’ve been around since nineteen-eleven! Our Agency is responsible for approximately 450 000 km2 of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage areas. From rugged ocean views… To soaring mountains tops… From learning about Indigenous histories and cultures… To action-packed adventures… Our Agency brings Canada to life. Whether in some of the most remote parts of the country…or right at your front door… our places make memories that last a lifetime. Parks Canada does a lot more than operate these special places…we also work hard every day to preserve them. Ecological integrity is the first priority in the management of national parks… Our ecological restoration projects manage wildland fires, limit invasive species, protects species at risk, reintroduces species into native habitats and mitigate environmental impacts. Parks Canada represents a natural solution to climate change. Parks Canada is a world leader in cultural heritage; commemorating over 2100 people, places and events of national historic significance; and cares for 31 million artifacts. Our national historic sites… bring to life the stories of Canada’s rich history. Our agency is Canada’s largest federal land administrator, while managing the second largest infrastructure portfolio in the Government of Canada. It oversees the maintenance of all types of infrastructure: from campsites and visitors centres to canal locks, highways, bridges and dams – over 17,500 built assets worth more than $25.5 billion. Parks Canada is the country’s largest tourism provider with twenty-five million people who visited a Parks Canada place in 2018. We are helping grow the economic sustainability of hundreds of communities across Canada, creating jobs and supporting tourism in every corner of the country. Young people are a big part of Parks Canada; our Agency is a top employer of Canadian youth and our Youth Ambassador program helps build communities of engaged young people who care about the planet all across Canada. Parks Canada offers free admission to anyone age 17 or under! Parks Canada has over 5,500 full time employees and during peak visitation periods its workforce increases by as much as 25%. There are teams dedicated to… protected areas establishment and conservation, cultural heritage conservation, Indigenous relations, asset management, visitor experience and connecting with Canadians, law enforcement and internal services. At Parks Canada, visitor safety is a top priority. We have dedicated search and rescue teams, front country avalanche controllers, and fire management teams who conduct prescribed fires in our places. These high-risk jobs are a necessary part of keeping our visitors AND our places safe. Parks Canada is responsible for the management and the establishment of new national parks and national marine conservation areas in collaboration with Indigenous communities and partners. Parks Canada works with approximately 300 Indigenous communities to conserve, restore and present Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. Our objectives are to strengthen Indigenous connections with traditionally used lands and waters; expand commemoration of Indigenous histories and cultures; and increase economic opportunities for Indigenous partners. Many Parks Canada places are within the traditional territories of different Indigenous communities across Canada. And Indigenous stewardship plays a critical role in maintaining and protecting these special places. We prioritize working with Indigenous partners to cooperatively manage lands and waters in traditional ways and with traditional values. For over a decade Parks Canada’s underwater archaeology team has led the search and recovery of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition in Canada’s Arctic waters, one of the largest and most important underwater underwater archaeological undertakings in Canadian history. Perseverance, technology and Inuit knowledge led to the discovery of the wreck sites of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Parks Canada is also committed to the development of programs and services that encourage Canadians to experience our places! We run programs like Learn to Camp, teaching Canadians critical camping skills while allowing them to connect with nature like never before. Our agency also has strong brand recognition… Our social media channels are followed by almost 2 million people, our uniforms are instantly recognizable and Parka is beloved by kids across the country. We are working to form a greater part of Canada’s communities by hosting many Citizenship ceremonies in Parks Canada places; thousands of new Canadians have received their Canadian citizenship on the grounds of a Parks Canada place! As Canada’s largest provider of natural and cultural tourism, Parks Canada creates employment opportunities and economic growth into local markets in more than 450 communities. Our Agency adds $4 billion to Canada’s GDP. We are guardians of national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. We are guides to visitors the world over. We are partners, building on the rich traditions of Indigenous people. We are storytellers, recounting the history of our land and our people – the stories of Canada. Parks Canada is a living legacy connecting hearts and minds to a deeper understanding of the essence of Canada.