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Honourable Senators, today I would like to highlight the one hundredth anniversary of Parks Canada.

Through a network of 42 national parks and 167 national historic sites, as well as four national marine conservation sites, Parks Canada works hard to ensure that Canada's historical and natural heritage is preserved.

Established in 1911 as the Dominion Parks Branch, Parks Canada was the world's first national service dedicated to the protection of national parks and historic sites.

Honourable senators, Canada is a world leader in protecting and preserving treasured natural and historic places.

Parks Canada is working on developing programs that encourage all Canadians to take advantage of our parks.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in one such program. "Learn to Camp" is a national program where Parks Canada teams up with Mountain Equipment Co-op to teach new Canadians the basics of camping. Families learned skills such as how to cook outdoors, how to set up a tent and how to enjoy campfires — all under the expert supervision of qualified guides.

This program was designed to help new Canadians learn about the joys of camping and to encourage them to take advantage of our great national parks.

The event took place at Fort Beausejour, on the beautiful Tantramar Marsh, in an area that Acadians called "Beaubassin" or beautiful basin.

The first Acadian settlers transformed the region into a beautiful and productive spot. In the 18th century, Acadian settlers built dikes in the marshes, to block salt water from the Atlantic Ocean and to create a prosperous agricultural area with rich, sedimentary soil.

This area is host to many rare and endangered birds. The place name, Tantramar, derives from the Acadian French "tintamarere," which some say refers to the loud noises of the flocks of birds living there.

Canada's system of national parks and national marine conservation areas has expanded exponentially in the past couple of years. The excellence of our parks system, under the care of Parks Canada, has resulted in the World Wildlife Fund awarding Parks Canada the prestigious Gift to the Earth award. The award is their highest accolade for conservation work of outstanding merit.

Honourable Senators, our national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas are places of profound importance and great treasures for our country. The heritage and landscape of these special places are witnesses to many of our defining moments and each tell a unique story.

We are all responsible for protecting and preserving this precious resource.