Establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve

Backgrounder

About the area
Located at the eastern end of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve is part of a larger group of proposed protected areas around the East Arm and Artillery Lake regions.

The lives and cultures of all Indigenous peoples in this region are rooted in the lands and waters of Thaidene Nene. It is a culturally rich area, where Indigenous traditions and harvesting are practiced. It also hosts spiritual areas used by Indigenous peoples for generations. Local residents and visitors also enjoy the Thaidene Nene area for a variety of recreational and tourist activities and it is internationally known as a fisherman’s paradise.

Indigenous lands
The Thaidene Nene area falls within the traditional territory of the Akaitcho Dene First Nations, closest to the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation community, and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation (Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, Hay River locals).

The T’li Cho government has a ratified land claim and self-government agreement. Under this land claim, the T’li Cho lands, Mowhi Gogha Dè Nṳtleè, overlap the northern portion of the national park reserve. The North Slave Métis Alliance also assert territory in the area.

National Park Reserve

As a national park reserve, Indigenous people can continue hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering and practicing spiritual activities, and will be involved in cooperative management of a national park reserve with Parks Canada.

Once the land claims are settled and agreements are negotiated that, among other things, address cooperative management, harvesting, cultural and spiritual activities, the national park reserve designation is then brought under the Canada National Parks Act as a national park, assuring that any rights pursuant to the land claims are affirmed and that cooperative management with Indigenous peoples will continue. Until then, a national park reserve is managed like a national park. 

Timeline
The Government of Canada first proposed a national park in the Thaidene Nene area in the late 1960s. At the time, there was insufficient support for the proposal to proceed. However, to leave the option open for a national park in the future, an area of 7,340km2 was set aside in a land withdrawal under the Territorial Lands Act in 1970.

In the late 1980s, provisions for the establishment of a national park were negotiated as part of the Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim; however, the agreement did not receive final approval.


During this period:

·  Parks Canada entered into consultations with implicated Dene and Métis;

·  a Mineral and Energy Resource Assessment (MERA) was completed for the area covered by the 1970 land withdrawal;

·  Parks Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories solicited public input about the proposal; and

·  Parks Canada proposed boundaries for the national park.

In the early 2000s, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation approached the Government of Canada to renew discussions. In 2005, the Łutsël k’e Dene First Nation delineated an area it called ‘Thaydene Nëné’, a part of its traditional territory that it proposed to protect through the establishment of a national park and other conservation measures.

In 2006, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation and the Government of Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding launching a process to examine a preliminary area of interest (33,600 km2 in size) for a national park reserve within the larger Thaidene Nene area.

Negotiation of an Establishment Agreement for Thaidene Nene began in 2010 between Parks Canada and the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation, and in 2013, negotiation of an Impact and Benefit Agreement with the Northwest Territory Métis Nation commenced. Negotiation of a Land Transfer Agreement between Parks Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories was initiated in 2016.

In April 2014, through the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, pursuant to the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement, signed by the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, the lands of the Thaidene Nene proposal came under the administration and control of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

In July 2015, the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Lutsel K’e First Nation, and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation reached agreement on a proposed boundary for a national park reserve in the Thaidene Nene area. Between 2015 and 2017, Parks Canada held public consultations to refine the principles for the establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve.

In April 2019, the Government of Canada introduced amendments to the Canada National Parks Act to take steps to legally establish the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. These were given Royal Assent on June 20, 2019, and will come into force following the transfer of the land from the Government of the Northwest Territories to Canada for the national park reserve.

Agreements
As part of the formal establishment of Thaidene Nene, the following agreements were signed during community celebrations in Fort Resolution (August 20, 2019) and Łutsël K’e (August 21, 2019):

· Establishment Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation

· Establishment Agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation

· Impact and Benefit Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation

· Establishment Agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation

· Memorandum of Agreement for Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve of Canada between Her Majesty in Right of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories (also known as the Land Transfer Agreement)

· Denesoltiné, an Agreement between the Parks Canada Agency and the Deninu K’ue First Nation

· Establishment Agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Deninu K’ue First Nation

· Agreement in Principle between the Government of Canada and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (in absentia)


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