a lament for canadas national parks

After this column I will publish two more. The end. Then I amicably wander out into new literary pastures. What fun the last three years have been.

After this column I will publish two more.

The end.

Then I amicably wander out into new literary pastures.

What fun the last three years have been.

To Peter Lesniak who fired me up just often enough, Richard Mostyn who calmed me down when I needed it most, and the rest of the Yukon News staff clever enough to find photographs for words, you have all been delightful.

In my final two columns I reflect on two topics near and dear to my heart: the resourceful wit and wisdom of my mother, a real scrapper just coming on her 89th birthday, and the unabashed love and contentment between people and their dogs.

Warning: cat lovers may get their panties in a bunch over the finale.

But for now I want to take you for a quick walk into the not so distant future: 2020 to be exact.

To do this I first let my mind search out one of my special places.

In thought I return to a large pile of rocks stacked up on flat ground at the mouth of a great river valley.

It is a solid-gold autumn day. Canada geese have already gone south. Without them this particular swath of wide sky is a wee bit short on detail. But there is certainly enough.

These rocks have been yanked around and nudged by glaciers and then left out here in the big open, scarred and broken.

Many though have been polished into partial curves by the seemingly constant flow of the Dezadeash River.

One rock lays upon another, a few lean together, several touch in sensual ways, others seem off-put; they all fit.

This pile of old rock is stacked just inside the boundary of Kluane National Park.

And it is just this — the future of Kluane, of all Canadian parks, the future of wilderness — that I think about now.

Politically, by the year 2020, Canada will lean far to the green. In fact there is every reason to believe — the reality of climate change for starters — that in the very near future the policies of the NDP and the Green Party of Canada will be the only ones that fit.

Liberals and Conservatives will have long ago begun to shrivel in the heat of “old thinking and outdated implementation.”

Believe it or not, this country is about to make a real hard bend to the left.

And none too soon.

Going all-out green is the only reasonable political response to the public’s business. All else is politics for power.

Into and out of this dramatic bend in the river will flow money, money and more money.

The support needed for the protection, restoration and operation of local, provincial and federal parklands.

All good news.

Our willingness (some will say the necessity) to go green will finally enable Parks Canada to take its rightful place in government hierarchy.

Like it or not, Canadians will lament for, and vote for, protecting and restoring our parklands.

There will be a resurgence of national pride, an awakening in our national consciousness for Canadian wilderness.

Mark my words, Canada will become the world leader in “managing” wilderness land.

Since 1930, an increasingly important part of our national character has been defined by Parks Canada.

And since the science of climate change has finally penetrated our thick skull, the role of wilderness looms larger still.

By 2020 Parks Canada’s mission will have risen to the top of our government’s list of priorities.

Parks Canada will be fully funded to enlarge upon, clarify and carry out its mission of maintaining a network of national parks “dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment.”

These places of local, national and international interest will, according to the National Parks Act, “be made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

By 2020, Canada’s national parks system will be well on its way to figuring out how best to use parks as focal points for education.

As such, national parks will be the exemplary and the expeditious classrooms of this century.

This is neither a radical nor an unreasonable idea. It is simply an idea whose time has come.

As we wander toward 2020, environmental education will take up increasing amounts of our “study” time.

Our educational mantra for the immediate future will be strikingly similar to that expressed by Aldo Leopold more than a half century ago.

Leopold reminded us then that in spite of our cultural, ideological and spiritual differences we are just plain members and citizens of the biotic community.

By 2020 most of us, out of absolute necessity if nothing else, will begin to see ourselves as plain folks (commoners so to speak) of the biotic community.

Our national parks, guided by Parks Canada, will set the standard.

Gregory Heming is a writer and optimist living in Nelson, British Columbia.