The Mi'kmaw experience is at the forefront as work continues on a proposed national park reserve along P.E.I.'s north shore.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Parks Canada and the P.E.I. Mi'kmaq's rights organization L'nuey earlier this year to manage, conserve and protect the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
The proposed national park reserve, called Pituamkek, stretches for 50 kilometres, from the mouth of Malpeque Bay all the way west to Alberton.
The sandhills and island chain includes Hog, Bird, Conway, Casumpec and Oulton's islands.
The area is ecologically significant because it has had very limited human interactions.
It has the only known formation of igneous rock on P.E.I. — estimated at over 200 million years old and vastly different from the Island's well-known red sandstone.
An archeological site on Hog Island offers a glimpse into how the Mi'kmaq lived before Europeans arrived.
"It's a very important site. It tells us a lot about Mi'kmaw subsistence and settlement patterns in the past, in the pre-contact era and straight through and beyond the arrival of European settlers here," said Helen Kristmanson, Pituamkek project manager for L'nuey.
This summer, five Mi'kmaw community members were hired as part of a pilot project through L'nuey in co-operation with Parks Canada.
From June to September, they travelled among the islands that could form the national park reserve. They worked with scientists and groups like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Island Nature Trust, and consulted with Mi'kmaw elders and knowledge keepers.
Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard said they were excited about the work.
"They are going to be feeding in their ideas on how we are going to be welcome visitors to Lennox Island First Nation and then to be able to inform them and teach them all about Pituamkek and how important that Mi'kmaw heritage landscape is to the Mi'kmaq people."
Talks continue on how the national park reserve would be governed and operated.