Government of Canada partners with Tłı̨chǫ First Nation to protect culturally important land in the Northwest Territories

News release

two canoes sit at the water’s edge in a beautiful lake on Tłı̨chǫ Land, surrounded by fall foliage.
Canoe Trail from Gameti to Mesa Lake on Tłı̨chǫ Land in Northwest Territories. Photo credit: Petter Jacobsen (2014)

March 6, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Conserving Canada’s natural heritage connects us all—and this is especially true for Indigenous communities in the North. For millennia, First Nations communities have thrived culturally and spiritually by living off the land and caring for it. That’s why the Government of Canada is helping to protect the land and water that play such a fundamental role in Tłı̨chǫ heritage and identity.

Today, the Government of Canada announced its support for an important Indigenous conservation initiative in the Northwest Territories. Through the Canada Nature Fund, the Government is contributing $2 million to help conserve more than 22,000 km2 of land between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake. Once complete, these two protected spaces—Gowhadõ Yek’e t’ii k’e and Tłı̨chǫ Nawoo Ké Dét’ahot’ìı —will be approximately twice the size of Cape Breton.

These lands are a fundamental part of the Tłı̨chǫ heritage and identity. They include the Įdaà Trail, an ancestral trail that follows waterways and watershed areas. The Trail includes many of the best sites for traditional activities including hunting, trapping, fishing, and collecting plants used for medicine, and it occupies a central place in Tłı̨chǫ history and culture.

The $2 million investment will assist the Tłı̨chǫ Government in

  • continuing to promote and protect Tłı̨chǫ culture and way of life
  • supporting the establishment of conserved areas
  • contributing significantly to the Government of Canada’s biodiversity conservation targets through Indigenous-led conservation efforts
  • supporting research into climate change

This conservation project represents reconciliation in action, as the Tłı̨chǫ Government and the Government of Canada are committing to recognizing the landscape as an “other effective area-based conservation measure” over the next three years. Maintaining this culturally significant land using Indigenous traditional knowledge will also help preserve and protect habitat for wildlife, including 16 species at risk like the boreal caribou, and will preserve known migration corridors for barren-ground caribou.

The Government of Canada is working with partners to double the amount of protected nature in Canada’s lands and oceans by the end of 2020 and now has committed to going even further. The Government will bring forward a plan to conserve 25 percent of Canada’s lands and 25 percent of its oceans by 2025. The investment announced today will help Canada make progress on our 2025 target.

Additional multimedia

Map of Tłı̨chǫ Lands, indicating the Traditional Use Zone and the Cultural Heritage Zone of the Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure.
Map of Tłı̨chǫ Lands, indicating the Traditional Use Zone and the Cultural Heritage Zone of the Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure.


“Congratulations to the Tłı̨chǫ Government on their work to conserve more than 22,000 km2 of land. The community is setting out to protect a substantial area of land with deep cultural ties, which is home to 16 species at risk including boreal caribou, and to preserve known migration corridors for barren-ground caribou. Canada understands the importance of conservation efforts like this one, and an investment of $2 million from the Canada Nature Fund will help us work together to advance both our goals of reconciliation and the conservation of 25 percent of Canada’s lands and 25 percent of its oceans by 2025.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Our land, our culture, and our way of life are what our people have always relied on and will continue to do so. The Tłı̨chǫ Wenek’e was developed through the eyes of our elders to protect and promote our way of life and the transfer of knowledge to future generations. These types of partnerships will only continue to strengthen our relationship and build on reconciliation.”

– George Mackenzie, Grand Chief of the Tłı̨chǫ Government

“Our government is proud to be working collaboratively with the Tłı̨chǫ Government to recognize and protect the significant traditional land situated between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake. This community-led conservation initiative represents reconciliation in action. The $2 million investment will help to protect the culture and traditional identity of the Tłı̨chǫ communities and will play a big role in helping to reach Canada’s nature protection goals.”

– Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • The Canada Nature Fund is a key part of the historic Nature Legacy investment of $1.3 billion announced in Budget 2018. The Canada Nature Fund enables the work of Canadians across the country to protect more of the nature we love and the wildlife that depend on it. Partner organizations will share in the costs for every project we support with those funds.

  • Up to $175 million for the Target 1 Challenge initiative will support ongoing progress toward achieving Canada’s Target 1 goal of conserving 17 percent of our land and fresh water by the end of 2020.

  • An area of land can be recognized as an other effective area-based conservation measure if it serves another primary objective but is governed and managed in a way that also conserves biodiversity.

  • Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas is important to mitigate the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. Intact forests and wetlands also capture and store carbon dioxide and can help protect communities from the impacts of climate change.

  • Canada is making Indigenous leadership an important part of conservation efforts. Up to 27 Indigenous protected and conserved areas are expected to be established under the Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge. Further, through Budget 2017, the Government announced support for Indigenous guardians programs, which support Indigenous conservation through on-the-ground stewardship initiatives.

Associated links


Moira Kelly
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)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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