Parks Canada asked visitors to stop leaving a newly constructed inukshuk mark of “I was here”. (Photo: REUTERS/David Ljunggren)
Parks Canada has a bone, or rather a stone, to pick with hikers who visit Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and feel inspired to leave their mark by building inukshuks.
Carla Wheaton, the manager of the park, told CBC Radio’s Corner Brook Morning Show, "We don't have a policy about inukshuks, per se, but we do encourage people to leave the landscape much as we found it".
Inukshuks are sculptures made of piled stones or boulders that were traditionally used for communication purposes thousands of years ago. The word inukshuk means "to act in the capacity of a human" in the Inuit language.
Today they are considered some of the oldest and most significant objects put there by the Arctic people, and they’re also a representation of the Inuit and their homeland.
For some reason, tourists visiting the park have now taken it upon themselves to build their own inukshuks to mark their presence, which has not just angered the government but also other visitors who view their presence as “faux inukshuks” and even consider them vandalism.
Parks Canada asked visitors to stop leaving a newly constructed inukshuk mark of “I was here”. Indeed, there are two good reasons why tourists should refrain from doing so: one, because it may be considered cultural appropriation, and two, because it’s harmful to the environment.
"Disturbing the landscape can really have an impact. There are lichens that are hundreds of years old that can be impacted," explained Wheaton.
Visitors to the park should realize that they are not the first one on the trail, and that the best way to commemorate their visit to the park is by remaining respectful to the landscape and not disturbing it.
For visitors who can’t help but make their mark, Wheaton asks that they do so on the stony beaches adjacent to the park.