Managing Canada’s Park Systems: Exploring Aboriginal Involvement in Canadian National Parks
Farr, Shannon Elizabeth
Master of Environmental Studies
DisciplineEnvironmental Studies : Northern Environments & Cultures
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In recent years attempts have been made to bridge Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal interests in the management of Canadian federal parks. In part this reflects increasing recognition of Aboriginal rights to lands and resources, and the need to reconfirm at an operational level the relationship that Aboriginal peoples have to the land (Sherry 1999; Speilmann and Unger 2000; Devin and Doberstein 2004; Battiste 2005; Hawley et al. 2005; Houde 2007). This thesis uses Clark’s (2002) policy sciences framework on problem orientation to examine how Aboriginal cultural perspectives can be better incorporated into park management, and how Aboriginal employment opportunities in parks can be increased (as per park policy). Clark’s (2002) problem orientation framework offers ways to explore and identify strategies by which policy problems can be improved by accommodating common interests, people’s expectations and their preferred goals. The research used a case study approach focusing on Pukaskwa National Park and the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of the Pic River First Nation and Parks Canada representatives. By reviewing the broader literature on policy and planning related to First Nations and Parks Canada and then evaluating that in context of the case study, my research examined the current state of Aboriginal involvement in Pukaskwa National Park and makes recommendations for future improvement in this area. My analysis found that at this time Aboriginal culture is not being well integrated in the park, especially in relation to park programming. Further to this, my analysis also showed that Aboriginal employment levels are at a standstill and there is a desire to see more Aboriginal people in managerial roles within the park. Factors such as competing interests, mandates and timelines have affected the current relationship between Parks Canada and members of the Pic River First Nation. I believe that a significant difficulty lies in establishing an appropriate balance between the priorities of Parks Canada and Pic River First Nation.