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New Government of Canada legislation to give Indigenous peoples a stronger voice and strengthen the protection and conservation of historic places in Canada

Press Release

From: Parks Canada

News release

The proposed legislation will expand representation for Indigenous peoples on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and ensure transparent, sustainable, and inclusive direction for federally owned historic places

June 7, 2022

During the month of June, Canada commemorates National Indigenous History Month. The protection and conservation of historic places in Canada can and must be part of Canada’s reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring these irreplaceable sites reflect the rich and varied heritage of our country and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history, including the histories and contributions of Indigenous peoples.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the tabling of historic legislation dedicated to the designation and protection of federally owned historic places. This will be Canada’s first legislation of this kind and will result in a stronger voice for Indigenous peoples in determining the people, places and events considered to be of national historic significance and national historic interest in Canada. In addition, the legislation will provide for transparent decision-making, sharing information with Canadians and parliamentarians, and sustainable protection of federally owned historic places.

The proposed legislation creates three new positions on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) for First Nations, Métis and Inuit representatives, and improves integration of Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history. This step is an important part of the Government of Canada’s response to Call to Action 79 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which calls for the development of a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration.

The proposed legislation also provides a clear, coherent and transparent framework for the identification, evaluation and designation of historic places. It will provide for the protection and conservation of historic places administered by the Parks Canada Agency, other federal departments and the National Capital Commission, and provide the flexibility to adapt these historic places for sustainable reuse through greening and accessibility modifications.  Budget 2021 provided $28.7 million over five years and $5.8 million ongoing for the Parks Canada Agency to implement new legislation that would provide for a transparent designation framework as well as the sustainable protection of the over 300 federally owned historic places. This legislation provides the framework for action.

Through this legislation, the Government of Canada is taking action to ensure the sustainable protection of historic places and to present our shared history in ways that are inclusive and meaningful to all Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, youth and members of diverse groups across Canada.
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Quotes

“This strong legislative framework – the first of its kind in Canada – will help ensure Canada’s treasured historic places can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. The proposed legislation not only strengthens Indigenous voices at the table, but also provides flexibility to adapt and reuse historic places as a sustainable way of addressing the climate change crisis, and offers opportunities to green buildings and increase their accessibility, ensuring that these sites are open to all Canadians.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plays a central role in our country’s official historic designations. Ensuring representation for Indigenous peoples on the Board is an important step in responding to Call to Action 79, which calls for the development of a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. It will also will help to promote recognition and understanding of the history of Indigenous peoples, including their significant, ongoing contributions to Canada.”

The Honourable Marc Miller,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“I can think of no better or meaningful time to advance this important legislation than during National Indigenous History Month. This Bill is about reconciliation. The time is now for legislation to ensure more inclusive designations of historic persons, places or events of national significance or national interest and, very importantly, to ensure that Indigenous voices are strong, and that histories and experiences of Indigenous peoples are included in the process.”

Jaime Battiste
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Chair of Indigenous Caucus

“Canada’s iconic historic places reflect the rich and varied heritage of our country, and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diverse history. This legislation will allow us to better integrate Indigenous histories and knowledge into new designations and ensure transparent, sustainable, and inclusive direction for federally-owned historic places through protection and conservation measures for generations to come.”

John Aldag
Member of Parliament, Cloverdale—Langley City

Quick facts

  • There are over 300 federally owned historic places located in every province and territory, including in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Custody of federally-owned historic places is distributed as follows: Parks Canada Agency (190 or 61%); National Defence (34 or 11%); Public Services and Procurement Canada (33 or 11%); Fisheries and Oceans Canada (22 or 7%); National Capital Commission (15 or 5%); and; other custodians (15 or 5%).
  • The vast majority of federally owned historic places have no legal protection, including the Parliament Buildings and those operated by the Parks Canada Agency. Canada is the only major developed country (G7 country) without comprehensive legislation supported by regulations, policies and programs to protect historic places within its jurisdiction.
  • Parks Canada is working with Indigenous peoples to incorporate Indigenous views, histories, and heritage into national historic sites and national parks. The proposed legislation is further progress on the Government of Canada’s response to Call to Action 79 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For more information on the Calls to Action please visit: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf.

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Associated links

Contacts

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
[email protected]

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
[email protected]

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