Nunavut's Ukkusiksalik National Park gets legal protection

This week, the Government of Canada formally created Ukkusiksalik National Park, giving it protection under the Canada National Parks Act, the "strongest protection of natural areas" in the country.

Google Street View will soon allow online trekking of northern parks like Ukkusiksalik

Ukkusiksalik National Park is one of four national parks in Nunavut, and one of 44 across the country. (Courtesy Daniel Taukie)

The federal government has added a northern paradise to its list of legally protected national parks. 

Ukkusiksalik National Park on Wager Bay, 140 kilometres from Repulse Bay, Nunavut, is home to a variety of wildlife, including caribou, wolves, polar bears and golden eagles. 

It became Canada's 41st national park in 2003, but wasn't officially enshrined "in the Canada National Parks Act through an Order-in-Council," a federal press release says. That means it wasn't legally protected. 

But this week, the Canadian government changed that.

It formally made Ukkusiksalik one of the country's protected national parks, which means the park is now preserved under the Canada National Parks Act, the "strongest protection of natural areas" in the country. 

Ukkusiksalik National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including caribou (pictured above), wolves, polar bears and golden eagles. (Courtesy Daniel Taukie)

"Our government is committed to ensuring our natural heritage and rich biodiversity is protected for all Canadians today and into the future," said Leona Aglukkaq, the minister responsible for Parks Canada, in a press release.

Nancy Anilniliak, who works for Parks Canada in Iqaluit, says Ukkusiksalik is the most unique national park in Nunavut.

It's named after the soapstone found in the area and has more than 500 archaeological sites.

Aniniliak says Inuit hunt caribou in the area and are also part of a Inuit knowledge group, which helps Parks Canada understand the tradition of the land. 

She says the park is ideal for photographers, videographers, paddlers and hikers, but she says Parks Canada isn't expecting a lot of visitors its first couple of years. 

"I know we have 400 to Auyuittuq (National Park)," which is also in Nunavut, Anilniliak said. They are not expecting the number of visitors at Ukkusiksalik at least for the first few years.

Google comes to northern parks

People around the world will soon be able to virtually hike in Canada's national parks in the North.

Google and Parks Canada staff are busy gathering images this summer for Google Street View, using the Google Trekker. 

Parks Canada is teaming up with Google to gather panoramic photos and videos in several northern national parks. (CBC)
"It's a really interesting device," said Parks Canada's Fiona Currie, who was one of the people who walked around some of the parks to get the visuals. "It has a large spherical object that sits above your head and it's just bristling with cameras so it's got lenses facing in every direction, including straight up in the air."

Several national parks and heritage sites in southern Canada already live on Google Street View, but now the northern parks will be available in the new year. This includes Tuktut Nogait and Wood Buffalo national parks in the Northwest Territories, as well as Auyuittuq in Nunavut, Ivvavik in Yukon and the Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador.


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