Parks Canada demonstrated its strong commitment to developing their connections with Indigenous Peoples throughout the country with a declaration of support for the innovative ‘Open Doors Program’ which was part of the Promise of Sydney legacy at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 in Australia.
Canada have been committed to supporting Aboriginal people in connecting to their traditionally used lands, in order to strengthen traditional knowledge and the cooperation in the management of the north American country's heritage places, such as through the Open Doors Program.
I am really proud of the relationship Parks Canada has forged with Canada's Aboriginal Peoples," said Nadine Crookes, Director of Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat for Parks Canada. "The Aboriginal Open Doors Program is just one example of the many ways the Agency is demonstrating its commitment to enabling the connection or reconnection of Canada's First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples to the lands and waters of Canada's national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites."
Over the past decade, Parks Canada has come to realise that strong relationships with Aboriginal partners are essential to achieving its vision and mandate. Opportunities to better understand "what works" to support fostering long-lasting relationships have clearly demonstrated that long-term commitment, trust, and mutual respect, along with opportunities to learn from past mistakes are key.
Today, Parks Canada is optimistic that the path it is forging with Aboriginal communities will continue to foster strong partnerships and connections to these traditionally-used lands that Parks manages. Programs and tools have been developed with the support of Aboriginal communities to help facilitate access for Aboriginal peoples to Parks Canada heritage places.
They also encourage traditional activities and the use and transfer of traditional knowledge, and continue to foster strong relationships between all partners through formal agreements. The Aboriginal Peoples Open Door Program is one such program that removes the entry fee requirement for purchasing a permit or a pass which was often perceived as a barrier to establishing a relationship with Aboriginal Peoples where they claim a connection to the lands and waters that encompass one or more national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation area.
Since the program was launched in 2014, six parks have signed Memoranda of Understanding with local Aboriginal groups and many more are negotiating the terms for a similar agreement.