Canada's Environment and Climate Change Minister is raving about her experience touring one of this country's best kept secrets: the Torngat Mountains.
Catherine McKenna visited the national park — which is fully operated by Inuit — last week; she told CBC News it was important to meet with people living off the land to see what the park has to offer.
The mountains are the ancestral home of the Labrador Inuit and are located about 200 kilometres from Nain, Labrador's most northern community.
While she was visiting the area, McKenna said she was accompanied by Natan Obed, the president of the national Inuit organization, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
"He was able to tell me really about the Inuit experience in the park, so I could learn a lot more about our history — which is a lot longer than 150 years, that's for sure — and really understand the Inuit connection with the land," she said.
During her trip, McKenna said she watched as the Inuit hunted seals, caught and prepared arctic char and provided for themselves off the land.
Climate change a growing concern
The visit was also an important opportunity for McKenna to see firsthand the effects of climate change in the north.
"We see it [across the country] in floods. We now have forest fires, we have droughts. But in the arctic, that's the canary in the coal mine," she said.
"They are already seeing double the warming. That's having a real impact in very tangible ways"
Going forward, McKenna said she hopes to take the lessons she has learned from visiting the park and apply them to her work with the environment.
"I look at what is the future of parks and how do we move forward on reconciliation," she said.
"It really struck me that this experience will influence those decisions that I am very privileged to be able to make, but you can't make them sitting in Ottawa."
While on a hike, we came across a crystal blue lake. It may be beautiful, but dang is it cold! You know me… I obviously took a dip! pic.twitter.com/yVcxMZbwo6— @cathmckenna