06/06/2012 10:20 EDT | Updated 08/06/2012 05:12 EDT

Parks Canada urged to abandon artifact move

Nova Scotia's Mi'kmaq and Acadian groups are calling on Parks Canada to abandon plans to move centuries-old artifacts out of the province to save money.

Thousands of items are currently kept in a brand new, custom-built facility in Dartmouth with climate-controlled labs that hold historical artifacts from Atlantic Canada's national parks and historic sites.

Last month, the federal government announced that to deal with budget cuts, Parks Canada will merge its six labs across the country over the next three years and consolidate the collections in Ottawa.

"It's a bit concerning," said Roger Hunka, the director of intergovernmental affairs for the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council.

"We are not just dollar bills. When you have decisions made that' 'I'm federal parks and I'm just going to make this decision without involving anybody,' it's a sad commentary. It's not the way to run a federation."

The climate-controlled building in Dartmouth contains everything from pieces of glass and shards of ceramic to parts of an Acadian dyke system known as an aboiteau.

Six jobs will be cut in Dartmouth as Parks Canada moves the items to Ottawa in a move that it says will streamline services and reduce costs.

"It's almost scandalous that we move this so far away," said Charles Gaudet, the director of La Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

"For our historians and our researchers, it should be here. I can see where we're going to move this to Ottawa and then when we need to make an exposition or whatever we have to bring this back from Ottawa."

Gaudet said the artifacts should remain near the ancestral grounds where they were found.

"It belongs to Nova Scotia and in our view, it should stay in Nova Scotia," he told CBC News.

Chief Frank Meuse, of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs, said his group is hoping it can sit down with Parks Canada to find a way to keep the artifacts in Nova Scotia.

Parks Canada was one of the hardest-hit departments in federal budget cuts, with 1,689 affected notices going to the agency that runs national historic sites and national parks. According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, 408 Parks Canada staff members in the Atlantic region got letters saying their jobs could be in danger.