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

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.