Dehcho First Nations and Government of Canada announce first of new Indigenous protected areas in Canada: Edéhzhíe Protected Area

News release

October 11, 2018 – Fort Providence, Northwest Territories

The insights and contributions of Indigenous Peoples are essential to understanding and protecting our natural environment. The Government of Canada is working with Indigenous communities across Canada in the spirit of reconciliation to increase the amount of nature protected from coast to coast to coast.

The Dehcho First Nations Assembly has designated the Edéhzhíe Protected Area as an Indigenous protected area that will protect water, conserve biodiversity and wildlife habitat, and ensure that the Dehcho Dene relationship with the lands of Edéhzhíe is maintained for present and future generations through Dehcho-led stewardship, monitoring, and cultural activities.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, and Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian welcomed the Edéhzhíe Protected Area designation in a ceremony held in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories. Minister McKenna announced that the Edéhzhíe Protected Area will be the first of many new Indigenous protected areas in Canada, established in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and supported through the Government’s historic 2018 budget investment in protecting nature.

The creation of Indigenous protected areas will help Canada fight climate change and meet its commitments to protecting nature and biodiversity, and it is an example of Indigenous reconciliation in action. In addition, Environment and Climate Change Canada has committed to establishing the area as a national wildlife area by 2020, to complement Dehcho conservation and stewardship goals. The Edéhzhíe Protected Area and National Wildlife Area is funded through Budget 2018’s historic investment in nature.

By investing in Indigenous protected areas, the Government of Canada continues to work closely with Indigenous Peoples to protect land, species, and biodiversity for future generations.


“Our government has made a historic investment in protecting nature from coast to coast to coast. By creating the Edéhzhíe Protected Area and National Wildlife Area under the leadership of the Dehcho First Nations, we are protecting a very special place in Canada while working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance reconciliation.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Our people know Edéhzhíe as a special and spiritual place. By working together to secure permanent protection, we are taking steps with Canada to renew our nation-to-nation relationship and ensure that the lands, water, and Dehcho way of life are maintained in Edéhzhíe for present and future generations.”
– Jonas Antoine, Elder of the Dehcho First Nations

Quick facts

  • The Edéhzhíe Protected Area is located in the southwestern part of the Northwest Territories and covers 14,218 square kilometres, an area more than twice the size of Banff National Park.

  • The Protected Area will be managed through a consensus-based management board and the stewardship activities of the Dehcho First Nations’ Indigenous guardians and stewardship programs.

  • A wide variety of northern species of plants and animals are found in the area, including at-risk boreal caribou.

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Caroline Thériault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

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