The minister responsible for Parks Canada is trying to alleviate the fears of aboriginal and other cultural groups over a plan to move artifacts out of Nova Scotia.
"Parks Canada can save $4 million by consolidating that storage in one place in Gatineau, Quebec," Environment Minister Peter Kent said Wednesday in Ottawa.
Tens of thousands of items are stored at a new, climate-controlled building in Dartmouth, but will be centralized in Quebec as part of a cost-cutting move.
"With regards to access to those artifacts by academics or by cultural organizations or historians, Parks Canada will endeavour to move those artifacts back to their home locales, those relevant artifacts, in a matter of weeks upon request," Kent said.
In Nova Scotia, academic, Mi'kmaq and Acadian groups have come forward to say the move should be abandoned, because the decision came without consultation, and because they believe artifacts should remain near the ancestral grounds where they were found.
"With regards to First Nations, again if there are opportunities for those to be displayed appropriately, Parks Canada recognizes the cultural and heritage importance of these links with our past and with our First Nations history," Kent said.
"But again, if the artifacts are in storage, in Nova Scotia for example, (they) would be more cost-effectively stored in a larger central warehouse."
The Dartmouth building houses everything from pieces of glass and shards of ceramic to parts of an Acadian dyke system known as an aboiteau.
Six jobs will be cut in Dartmouth as Parks Canada moves the items.
The government says the artifacts will be packed up and moved out of Dartmouth over the next three years.
Parks Canada was one of the hardest-hit departments in recent federal budget cuts, with 1,689 redundancy notices going to employees of the agency that runs national historic sites and national parks.
According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, 408 Parks Canada staff members in the Atlantic region got letters saying their jobs could be in danger.