Let’s Talk Parks, Canada!

As with any proud Parks Canada employee, I love talking about parks. I’ve mastered the art of bringing Parks Canada into pretty much any situation or conversation.

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Parks Canada pinwheel questions to get the conversation started!

You’re eating canned salmon for lunch? -> The Gulf of Georgia Cannery (a National Historic Site in Richmond, B.C.) used to can it for you!

You tell me that beluga whales are your spirit animal? -> Then you’ve got to visit Wapusk National Park (in Northern Manitoba) to be re-united with your fellow whales.

See what I did there? hahaha

But you don’t need to work for Parks Canada to talk about it! Our Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna, has opened the passionate parkie conversation up to all Canadians. Yes, this is an open dialogue where all citizens can share their vision for the future of Parks Canada. 2017 feels like the year of transformation as we gear up for Canada’s 150th birthday celebration, making it a fitting year to re-vision Parks Canada!

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The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister responsible for Parks Canada, kayaking in Thousand Islands National Park.

As a Parks Canada Campus Club leader, I had the opportunity to tune into the “Let’s Talk Parks, Canada” conversation in Ottawa on Monday and virtually meet the minister on Facebook Live. I was thrilled when she expressed her commitment to preserving national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas for Canadians to enjoy long into the future. After an inspiring speech from the minister, we broke off into youth discussion groups to chat about this question:

 “How can we respond to environmental changes in a way that ensures our national heritage places can be protected, visited, and enjoyed by all?”

As with any complex solution-based question, there are no wrong answers and the conversation can be endless! In a 30-minute conversation, here’s what we came up-

  • Increased focus on conservation – As visitation is bound to explode in 2017 with free entry, we want to make sure to preserve the ecological integrity of our places.
  • The more parks, the better! – We would love to see Canada stick to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) target to protect over 17% of our land by 2020. Parks are perfect for mitigating the effects of climate change and preserving biodiversity, so why not do this more?protectedareas_nat_en
  • Opportunities for youth in parks – Youth volunteer teams? Guided hikes or youth nature retreats? Learn to Camp programs in high schools?  There are lots of ways to explore this idea.
  • Parks Canada carpooling – A big barrier for youth is transportation, so it would be neat to have affordable busing that could take people from urban centers to national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas!

Thought of something that’s not on the list above? Then share what matters to you! We have one week left to join the conversation about Parks Canada with the minister. Raise your voice here- http://letstalkparkscanada.ca/

~Elise

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