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September Calendar Image : Spirit Island
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September Calendar Image : Spirit Island

This blog was written by Anne-Marie Macloughlin for the September 2018 calendar image of Spirit Island in Jasper National Park, which was shot by photographer Bill Settle. For many of us born outside of Canada, the Rocky Mountain vista as seen from the vantage point of postcard-perfect Maligne Lake is the archetypal Canadian landscape. Part of Jasper National Park, Canada’s largest at over 11,000 square kilometres and a UNESCO heritage site, the aqua lake with it’s other-worldly hue (a result of rock-flour from the glaciers) is what comes to mind when imagining the Rocky Mountains. The park is home to a staggering amount of wildlife, close to 70 different species whose survival depends on the park remaining protected. Three large glaciers loom over Maligne, the name translating to “Wicked” in French, possibly attributed to the turbulence of the spring runoff into the Maligne River which would have been treacherous to navigate for early explorers. Hard to reconcile such a negative connotation with the soul-stirring beauty of Maligne, the original indigenous name of “Chaba Imne” (Beaver Lake) more in keeping with the mythology of the surroundings, perhaps. And emerging into the lake like a mirage is Spirit island.   What is known as a tied island, Spirit Island is attached to the mainland by a slim spit of land, the iconic landscape globally familiar, used by Kodak Photographic in 1960 in a display in New York’s Grand Central Terminal to show-off colour photography. Depending on the season and water levels, Spirit Island can be cut off from the mainland if the Spring runoff from melting snow is significant. Accessibility in general is limited, tours by boat a popular option for visitors to the park, some of them affording an extended stay on the island to explore and fully appreciate the natural beauty. The island sits in a box canyon, a flat-bottomed lake surrounded by vertical walls of glacier with late afternoon in the summer an optimal time for photo opps, some tours even led by a professional photographer to capture the perfect image. With much of Canada’s history containing significant elements of indigenous lore, Spirit Island is no exception. A place of significance to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, it’s easy to understand the connection early settlers to the region felt with the power of nature in spite of its potentially harsh conditions (the average daily low in January a frigid -17.8C). According to First Nations mythology, the name comes from the story of two young lovers. A modern-day Romeo and Juliet, they belonged to warring tribes and used the island for their forbidden trysts. The young girl finally confessed to her father, one of the tribes’ chiefs, and he banned her from ever returning to the island. Her heartbroken lover continued to return to Spirit Island over the years, hoping to see her again. Sadly, she never went back and he eventually died on the island, his spirit wandering there for eternity. Ghost stories aside, Spirit Island and its surrounding park remains a popular go-to for tourists and nature lovers. With more green spaces diminishing in the name of urbanisation, development and the bottom line, protecting these sacred spaces is even more important than ever. UNESCO has an information monitoring system that provides data on the state of conservation of world heritage sites and the threats they face and Nature Canada, the country’s oldest nature conservation charity, has over the last 75 years helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada. As important as conservation is for the non-human park dwellers, we humans are deeply affected by our surroundings; recent studies are seeking to prove that exposure to nature improves mental, physical and emotional health. As Edward O. Wilson hypothesises in his book “Biophilia” (Wilson, 1984) we have a tendency to seek connections with nature and other living things. The haunting beauty of Spirit Island seems like a good place to start.

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Expansion of Bruce Peninsula National Park
Andrea Lesperance,
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Expansion of Bruce Peninsula National Park

[caption id="attachment_37987" align="alignleft" width="150"] Andrea Lesperance, Student-at-Law.[/caption] This blog post was written by Andrea Lesperance a Student-at-law at Nature Canada. Parks Canada has reached an agreement to purchase the approximately 1300 hectare Driftwood Cove property directly North of Bruce Peninsula National Park on the Georgian Bay coast. The property will be incorporated into the Bruce Peninsula National Park and contribute to conservation of UNESCO’s Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, a 725 km corridor from Lake Ontario to the tip of Bruce Peninsula. The park expansion is a significant step towards protection of biodiversity, species at risk and their habitat in southern Ontario. The Driftwood Cove land is home to at least 10 federally-listed species at risk. One such species is the Massasauga rattlesnake; Ontario has listed its Great Lakes – St. Lawrence population (the population that resides in Bruce Peninsula) as threatened. Species at risk in the Park are managed in accordance with a Multi-Species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada. Although no critical habitat is identified in this action plan, protection of habitat is the most important means of protecting at-risk species. Protection of habitat via creation or expansion of national parks also contributes to Canada’s goal to conserve at least 17% of its terrestrial areas and inland water and 10% of its coastal and marine areas through networks of protected areas by 2020. [caption id="attachment_37984" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo by Brandon Charles Xavier.[/caption] Bruce Peninsula National Park contains the largest continuous forest in southwestern Ontario and globally-rare ecosystems such as limestone barrens called alvars and cliff-edge forests. The expansion also adds many ecologically, geologically and culturally significant cave systems to the Park. The Bruce Peninsula lies within Anishinaabekiing - the traditional homeland or territory of the Anishnaabe of the Saugeen Ojubway Nation (SON) - contemporarily represented by the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and the Sagueen Ojibway First Nation. The Bruce Peninsula National Park was created in 1987 and, since then, has been added to via 140 parcels of land. The land had been listed for sale at $20.6 million but Parks Canada will not release the final purchase price prior to the sale. Parks Canada will be making the purchase with financial support from the Bruce Trail Conservancy.


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Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks
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Nature Canada pleased that ecological integrity remains top priority for National Parks

[caption id="attachment_36177" align="alignleft" width="181"] Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel[/caption] After an icy April in Ottawa, the sun shone bright on Major Hill Park on May 7, 2018 as Environment and Climate Change MInister Catherine McKenna announced her formal response to the Let’s Talk Parks consultation. McKenna noted that she has heard loud and clear from the 37,000 Canadians—including many Nature Canada supporters--who participated in the consultation. She put forward three priorities for Parks Canada arising from Let’s Talk Parks:

  1. Protect and restore our national parks and historic sites through focused investments, working with indigenous peoples and provinces and territories to ensure the ecological integrity is the first priority in decision making
  2. Enable people to further discover and connect with our parks and heritage through innovative ideas that help share these special places with Canadians.
  3. Put in place measures that sustain for generations to come the incredible value both economic and ecological that our parks and historic sites provide for communities. The value they bring to fighting climate change, protecting wild life, including species at risk and shaping our Canadian identity and the great economic opportunities that they bring.
[caption id="attachment_36826" align="alignright" width="281"] Aiden Mahoney. Snowshoer on Pine Tree Mountain[/caption] Nature Canada agrees with these priorities subject to the overriding imperative of ensuring that Canada’s parks are protected and sustained for future generations. However, Nature Canada is troubled by the fact that the proposed Impact Assessment Act currently being debated in Parliament will not legally require impact assessments of development projects—even construction of skiing venues for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Banff National Park!! So we are not convinced that the Parks Canada is committed to using key tools to ensure that National Parks are in fact protected. McKenna also announced that entry to National Parks will be free for children aged 17 years and under. As stewards of the future, it is important for them to have a strong appreciation of our natural world: “When you connect with parks, you understand the critical importance of protecting them.” McKenna reiterated. [caption id="attachment_36827" align="alignleft" width="300"] Adrian Suszko. The National Park.[/caption] She outlined how the historic federal investment of 1.3 billion in nature conservation, announced in Budget 2018, will enable protection of Canada's natural places and recovery and preservation of species at risk. Progress is being made toward achieving Canada’s international commitment to conserving 17 percent of land and 10 percent of ocean by 2020. However, federal and provincial governments need to develop plans to establish more protected areas within their respective jurisdictions; Nature Canada will be working with provincial and local nature groups across Canada to push governments to complete these plans and get on with identifying important sites across Canada to be protected. Funds from Budget 2018 will also make it possible to secure private land, support provincial and territorial species protection efforts, and build Indigenous capacity to conserve land and species. The federal government has made it a priority to forge new relationships with First Nations and Inuit and Metis people based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnerships. Nature Canada is convinced that there is a tremendous opportunity to protect ecosystems through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) established and managed by Indigenous organizations. Potential IPCAs include the North French River watershed in Moose Cree traditional territory in northern Ontario, and Edehzhie in Deh Cho traditional territory in western Northwest Territories. To read more about the topic, check out Newswire CTV or Canadian Geographic's media articles. For more details on the Ministers Round table 2017, visit here. Read more about  Lets Talk Parks Canada.
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Canada’s Parks Day and the Benefits of Being in Nature
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Canada’s Parks Day and the Benefits of Being in Nature

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="150"]becka-tulips Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. According to Statistics Canada, as of  2011, more than 80% of Canadians today live in urban areas. While the amenities of big-city life are a significant draw, the benefits of spending time in nature, for both children and adults, are unquestionable. children-forest-hikeGetting children out in nature is crucial to their growth. It enriches both their mental and physical development and well-being. Spending time outdoors and performing activities that engage with the natural world has been shown to increase attention spans, cultivate creativity, and plant a desire to learn through exploration. A 2009 study found that children who spend time in green parks exhibit lower levels of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, being outdoors is good for physical fitness. Recreational activities like walking, running, and spontaneous play (like throwing a ball), can lead to a lower likelihood of developing chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. Further, a longitudinal study performed in Southern California found that proximity to parks results in lower obesity rates among children. The benefits of nature extend to adulthood in numerous and diverse ways. Chronic stress leads to poorer sleep, headaches, obesity, hypertension, decreased immunity, and can eventually result in dangerous ailments such as heart disease and stroke. But the tension can be countered by taking in the sights and sounds of green spaces. And this doesn't mean a three-hour drive to the mountains. Apparently, merely having a window forest view can be enough to lower stress in the workplace! In addition, a 2015 study at Stanford University found that adults who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to a congested urban zone, had decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression. Another benefit of being in nature is improved cognitive ability. Spending time in green areas helps clear our heads, refocus, and also improves our memory. Research shows that even patients with dementia have decreased symptoms when exposed to gardens and horticultural activities. canada-parks-passWith these findings in mind, take care of yourself and your loved ones by taking it outside. Canada's Parks Day—and the rest of the summer—is yours for the taking! For 2017, admission is free to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. You can order your pass online or pick one up at MEC, CIBC branches, and various partner organizations near you—see this official list of locations by province. To help you make a destination decision, review this complete Parks Canada list of all the free sites, which you can limit by province. There are also many outdoor activities to consider in the city. Enjoy a contemplative walk or a bike ride along a waterway, a good book under the trees, a picnic by the lake, birdwatching from your porch, or a bug scavenger hunt with your children. The options are endless! We hope you enjoy this year’s Canada’s Parks Day and we would love to hear about your adventures!

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Your guide to fun summer activities at Canada’s national parks and historic sites
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Your guide to fun summer activities at Canada’s national parks and historic sites

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Samantha Nurse Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption]

As summer is in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the most of those long, hot summer days.

Here’s an idea: plan a trip to one of Canada’s 200 national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas! Plus, this year these sites are all free to access with the 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass! Whether you need a pit-stop where you can cool off, take a swim and have lunch, or you have always dreamed of a family vacation where you can tune into nature or immerse yourself in our nation’s history, there’s an adventure waiting for you at these of natural and historic areas.

10 things to do in a day

1. Grab a bite – With benches, washroom facilities and food concession stands, national parks and historic sites can be great places to stop for a snack and some fresh air. Walk along a trail and find a quieter, shaded area for a perfect afternoon picnic. 2. Hike a trail – You don’t need to be an ambitious hiker to enjoy the trails at most national parks. Take a walk along the coast, hike to a viewpoint or find an interpretive trail where you’ll learn more about the wildlife that calls this park home. You can follow this guide of 5 easy tips to prepare for any hike! [caption id="attachment_23400" align="alignright" width="313"]algonquin outlook Algonquin National Park[/caption] 3. Get out on the water – A relaxing and peaceful way to explore the rivers, lakes and coasts of Canada’s national parks is by boat. Canoeing, kayaking and row boating are the best ways to enjoy the lakes at parks like the La Mauricie National Park. You can glide quietly, closely observing the natural world on and around the water. 4. Get snap-happy – You never know when the perfect photo opportunity will come along when you’re exploring national parks. Teeming with wildlife and spectacular vistas, national parks are a great place for amateur and professional photographers alike to capture iconic species and landmarks on film. With your best photos, be sure to submit them to our Nature Photo Contest for a chance to win some amazing prizes! 5. Relax for a picnic - Sit at a picnic bench or on the ground, either way, you will be able to relax in the beauty of nature! See what wildlife you can spot and get some shade under a tree. Be sure to bring your food in tupperware to reduce waste and leave nothing behind. 6. Enjoy a performance – During the summer, you can watch re-enactments of famous battles, military drills and everyday Victorian life at many national historic sites. If you’re visiting Montreal, why not discover Old Montreal's little-known heritage jewel the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site in honour of our famous Father of Confederation? 7. Take a step back in time – Ever wonder what life was really like just a few hundred years ago? Step right into 19th-century life by dressing up in period costumes, becoming a Mountie for a day and sampling heritage recipes at places like Fort Walsh. [caption id="attachment_10588" align="alignleft" width="288"]Image of a flock of common terns Common Terns at Pelee Point, Point Pelee National Park[/caption] 8. Get to know our feathered friends – Try to identify as many birds species as you can as you stroll along a trail or drive through a national park. At the southernmost point in Canada, Point Pelee National Park is also one of the most spectacular nature hotspots in North America. 9. Explore an underwater world – Discover a world of vibrant marine life at Canada’s four national marine conservation areas. Check for sea stars in tidal pools. Spy whales off the coast. And don’t forget to look up – you don’t want to miss seabirds flying to their nesting colonies. Want to take an even closer look? Explore shipwrecks as you snorkel or take the glass bottom boat at Fathom Five National Marine Park. 10. Tour the past – Let Parks Canada interpreters guide you through key moments in Canada’s history. Their wealth of knowledge brings the stories to life as you walk in the footsteps of some of our most famous Canadians. If you’re in the Maritimes this summer, don’t miss the Halifax Citadel – this attraction is a nationally recognized site is a "must see" for any history buff. Got more time? If you plan on staying for more than just one day, there are plenty of activities that will bring you closer to nature. Extend your day-hike to a multi-day hike, add an overnight stay at a campground or spend another day practicing your surfing skills.
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A Greenish Budget
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A Greenish Budget

[caption id="attachment_23643" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Federal finance minister Bill Morneau announced the Liberal government’s first budget on March 22. Overall, Budget 2016 is pretty good for nature. Positive announcements include: National Parks

  • $142.5 million over 5 years for new parks establishment ($42 million);
  • $83.3 million to pay for free admissions to National Parks; and
  • $16.6 million for the Learn to Camp Program.
Marine and Coastal Areas
  • $81.3 million over 5 years to establish new marine protected areas and for marine conservation activities.
Environmental Assessment
  • $16.5 million over 3 years  for participant funding in environmental assessments of projects such as Energy East; and
  • $14.5 million over 3 years  to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for increasing its capacity with respect to consultations and compliance and enforcement.
Image of grasslandsBudget 2016 includes $2 billion for a low-carbon future fund and $518 million in climate change mitigation and adaptation infrastructure projects.  Nature Canada and other nature groups will be arguing that protection of  ecosystems such as native grasslands should be eligible for funding under these funds as inexpensive means to sequester and store carbon and build in resilience to global climate change. Nature Canada is disappointed  that  there is no new funding for Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) for
  • Species at risk,  migratory birds or grasslands conservation; or
  • Connecting Canadians to nature (Parks Canada did received funding for the Learn to Camp program)
Nature Canada and the other nature groups in the Green Budget Coalition need to work harder this year to ensure that these neglected CWS program areas are not neglected in Budget 2017. So in conclusion, overall a rating of “Greenish” for Budget 2016.
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Canada’s Coolest School Trip Contest video!
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Canada’s Coolest School Trip Contest video!

Learn more about how to enter your grade 8 class to win this all-expenses paid trip!

[button link="http://naturecanada.ca/initiatives/my-parks-pass/canadas-coolest-school-trip-contest/" size="large" target="_self" color="alternative-1" lightbox="false"]Canada's Coolest School Trip Contest[/button]

Grade 8/secondary 2 classes can enter to win an all-inclusive trip to La Mauricie National Park
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Grade 8/secondary 2 classes can enter to win an all-inclusive trip to La Mauricie National Park

Nature Canada is proud to announce the start of this year’s Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest. Any grade 8/secondary 2 class can enter to win the grand prize which includes a four-day all-expenses-paid trip to La Mauricie National Park and to historic sites of Québec City, including Lévis Forts, the Fortifications, Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, Montmorency Park, the Québec Garrison Club and Artillery Park Heritage Site.

The lucky grand-prize winners will canoe and hike through the breathtaking wilderness of La Mauricie National Park and glimpse the life of a soldier as they travel back in time at Lévis Forts National Historic Site. To finish things off, they will dine at the exclusive Québec Garrison Club National Historic Site and explore the rich history of the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico. There are many other great prizes to win, including three runner-up local field trips and gift packages for five honorable mentions.

To enter the contest, grade 8/secondary 2 classes must pick a Parks Canada place and make a one-minute video on why it’s extraordinary and important to Canadians.

Contest entries will be accepted online at www.myparkspass.ca from September 29, 2014 to February 23, 2015. The contest is open to all grade 8 or secondary 2 classes.

My Parks Pass is a collaborative program between Nature Canada, Parks Canada, Canadian Geographic Education, Canadian Wildlife Federation and Historica Canada. My Parks Pass strives to promote lasting relationships between young Canadians and Canada’s treasured places by inviting youth to experiences Parks Canada places first-hand.

Announcing the winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest
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Announcing the winners of Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest

OTTAWA (April 3, 2014) – Nature Canada is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Canada’s Coolest School Trip contest. For their fantastic (and catchy!) video, the grand-prize goes to the talented students from École Antoine-Roy in Gaspé, Quebec. Not only did they produce an amazing video about Forillon National Park and a series of ‘making of’ videos', they also succeeded in engaging their entire community in the contest. They garnered the support of a car dealership, a radio station and many other groups in their community. [separator headline=h3" title="The award-winning video:"] [video type="youtube" id="dB1zYdMNiao"]   "This is really a fantastic story. How often do you see kids get this engaged in Canada's history and natural spaces," asked Nature Canada's Paul Jorgenson. "The winning class didn't just produce an interesting and educational video, they got their whole community involved in the whole contest. We were absolutely amazed when we saw how much support the kids from École Antoine-Roy were able to build in their community," Jorgenson continued. [two_third]The lucky grand-prize winners will travel to British Columbia where they will kayak the emerald waters Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and go on amazing beach adventures to observe the wildlife that make this beautiful place their home. Students will also live the life of a World War I or II soldier at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, connect with the traditions of local First Nations, tour Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site after-dark and sleep under the stars in Parks Canada’s new oTENTik camping experience. The grand prize includes meals, accommodation and return airfare to and from Victoria for their entire class and their chaperones.[/two_third] [one_third_last][map w="198" h="202" style="standard" z="9" marker="yes" infowindow="Forillon National Park" infowindowdefault="yes" maptype="TERRAIN" hidecontrols="true" address="Forillon National Park, Quebec"][/one_third_last] For their admirable submissions, the Grade 8 classes from Toronto Waldorf School, Montague Intermediate and Northside Christian School are the winners of the runners up prizes. The runners up win local field trips and gift packages. Honourable mentions go out to the Grade 8 and secondaire 2 classes from Pavillon la Citadelle, Cedarview Middle School, École Carrefour de l’Acadie, Glashan Public School and Father Mercredi Community School. To enter the contest, grade 8 classes were asked to pick a Parks Canada place and make a video on why it’s important to Canadians. The theme of the video is: “Canada’s Coolest Stories: where nature and history meet”. This contest is made possible by the partnership of Nature Canada, Parks Canada, Canadian Geographic Education, Canadian Wildlife Federation and Historica Canada with the support of Air Canada. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]  

New App explores Canada’s nature and history
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New App explores Canada’s nature and history

Image of My Parks Pass Contest
Are you into nature in Canada? Or Canadian history? Better yet, do you love Canada's nature and history --or want to know more? Then explore Canada’s nature and history with this free educational app. The My Parks Pass Activity Guide is an interactive learning tool for iPad or Android that lets you explore Canada’s natural and cultural history right from home or in the classroom. It's available on Google Play or iTunes or as a classroom ready, printer-friendly PDF. It includes classroom activities for history, geography and science teachers, and was developed in line with Historical Thinking Concepts to encourage learners to think critically. The activity guide is part of The My Parks Pass program, which provides all grade eight/secondary II students free entry to all of Parks Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas for an entire year. The program is delivered in partnership with Nature Canada, Parks Canada, The Historica-Dominion Institute and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Here's more on My Parks Pass.

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