Nathan celebrates the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area

Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is my sincere pleasure today to rise and support enthusiastically the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area and Haida Heritage Site. We seek to expedite this work with all members of Parliament.

It is important for Canadians to understand the place that we are speaking of because this truly is one of Canada’s most remarkable gems. Five thousand square kilometres will be protected from the alpine tundra through to the temperate rainforest and into the depths of the ocean, 1,500 square kilometres of rainforest, 3,500 square kilometres of Pacific waters. Nearly 3,500 marine species are found within this archipelago and 600 coastal archeological sites have been identified including UNESCO’s World Heritage Site Sgang Gwaay.

In 2005 National Geographic named Gwaii Haanas first among 28 national parks across North America based on its incredible remote wilderness and in collaboration with the Haida.

I extend a personal invitation to all members in this House, including the minister, and all Canadians to come and spend some time in this most remarkable place. It is rare to have all parties join together in this place to do something that will benefit all Canadians that is good and lasting.

Canadians must also pay tribute to the courage and dedication of the Haida and the people of Haida Gwaii, who have led this process from the beginning. Special recognition must also go to the Council of Haida Nations and to its president Goujow, who has embodied Haida pride and a traditional and unique sense of Haida herocity throughout.

We also must recognize the early and visionary work of the former MP for Skeena, Jim Fulton, who to his dying days believed in a Canada that would include first nations and environmental values in all of the decisions that we make.

We want to congratulate the federal government and the oil industry in their recognition that there are some places in this world that we simply must protect and not allow coastal drilling.

In 2006 Canada committed to protecting a minimum of 10% of our coastal waters, and while we have made a good step today there are many steps yet to take along this path. We have an expression in the north that it is “the place, it is the land that makes the people”.

Today we have taken a further step toward protecting that land and protecting its people.