Thaidene Nene established as Canada’s newest national park reserve
14,000 square kilometres of wilderness protected through partnerships between Parks Canada, Government of Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation, and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, and with the Deninu K’ue First Nation, and with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation
August 21, 2019 Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories Parks Canada Agency
Nature is an important part of Canada’s cultural identity and vital to our health and prosperity. That’s why the Government of Canada is doubling the amount of land and oceans protected across Canada by 2020, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, and other key partners. Thaidene Nene, an area of pristine wilderness at the eastern end of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, is an example of the places we are working to protect – for today, and for future generations.
During community celebrations in Fort Resolution and Łutsël K’e over the past two days, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, signed agreements with the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, and the Deninu K’ue First Nation, and with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in absentia, to establish Thaidene Nene as a national park reserve, one of 47 national park reserves and national parks in Canada.
With a landscape that transitions from boreal forest to tundra, the Thaidene Nene area is of great cultural importance to the Indigenous peoples who have lived along the shores of Great Slave Lake for hundreds of generations. At approximately 14,000 square kilometres (more than double the size of the Greater Toronto Area), Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve encompasses the Artillery Lake area, a portion of East Arm’s Christie Bay, portions of Eileen and Whitefish lakes, the Lockhart River, most of the Snowdrift River, Tyrell Falls, Reliance, Fort Reliance, and many picturesque bays such as Maufelly, McLeod, and Wildbread.
Working in partnership to protect Thaidene Nene reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, and co-operation.
Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve is adjacent to territorially-protected areas and a wildlife conservation area under the jurisdiction of the Government of the Northwest Territories. The territorial protected and conserved areas are a critical contribution to protecting the biological diversity, watersheds, connectivity for the migration of key species such as caribou, and boreal forest ecosystems as well as cultural landscapes important to Indigenous communities that comprise Thaidene Nene. These areas will be managed under territorial jurisdictions through agreements with Indigenous governments as similarly as possible to the national park reserve to protect biodiversity and offer exceptional, interconnected experiences for visitors.
Budget 2018 announced $1.35 billion for a Nature Legacy Initiative, representing the largest single investment in nature conservation in Canadian history. In addition to announcing the establishment of the national park reserve, the Government of Canada also announced it would provide over $7.9 million for the establishment and operation of the Thaidene Nene territorial protected and conserved areas, through the Challenge Fund, part of the Nature Legacy Initiative. This funding will assist in funding the establishment and operation of the territorial protected and conserved areas. Together, these new areas, located immediately adjacent to the national park reserve, will protect an additional 12,222 square kilometres of lands and waters critical to the protection of Thaidene Nene, for a total of approximately 26,222 square kilometres (almost the size of Vancouver Island).
“Thaidene Nene is an area of breathtaking beauty, natural abundance and immense cultural significance to the Indigenous communities in the region. Our government is proud to work side-by-side with the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, and the Deninu K’e First Nation to establish Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, as part of our commitment to double the amount of nature protected across Canada for today and future generations.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Thaidene Nene is a celebrated cultural area with rich wildlife populations and unique landscapes that support traditional ways of life and activities important to all northerners. Protecting the ecological and cultural value of Thaidene Nene ensures local residents and visitors alike will have the opportunity to enjoy and respect this unique area for generations to come.”
The Honourable Robert C. McLeod,
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories
“The protection and stewardship of Thaidene Nene is the sacred responsibility of the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation, as passed down to us through the generations from our elders. Achieving the protection of Thaidene Nene for the Łutsël K’e Denesǫłine is a decade’s long dream, and is a critical step towards ensuring our way of life can be maintained and shared with all Canadians. I look forward to working in partnership with our neighbouring Indigenous communities, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories to steward this incredible landscape and to showcase its incredible natural and cultural values for the benefit of our people, other Northern communities, and all Canadians.”
Chief Darryl Marlowe,
Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation
“The Northwest Territory Métis Nation is proud to be a full government partner in the establishment of the East Arm National Park Reserve. This Impact Benefit Agreement recognizes the continuation of Indigenous Métis way of life in the park. This is a historic day that confirms the government to government relationship between Canada and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation. The Northwest Territory Métis Nation looks forward to implementing our new relationship with Parks Canada in the park based upon the principles of reconciliation.”
President, Northwest Territories Métis Nation
“Deninu Kue First Nation would like to extend its congratulations to Łutsël K’e First Nation, the Thaidene Nene Park Negotiating team and the other parties involved in reaching this establishment agreement. We have been greatly involved with this process for the past three years. Part of our involvement was surveys which showed majority support for the park to move ahead with the goal of protecting the land, wildlife and resources but at the same time ensuring our historical treaty rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather would not be infringed on, which this agreement accomplishes. This agreement signifies a strengthening relationship between the Federal Government, Government of the Northwest Territories and the affected Indigenous Groups, which we hope will continue. We are proud to be participating in this milestone and look forward to being the gateway community to Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve.”
Chief Louis Balsillie,
Deninu K’ue First Nation
Thaidene Nene represents the Northwest Boreal Uplands natural region of Canada’s national park system and is home to many boreal and tundra mammals such as barren-ground caribou, moose, muskox, grey wolf, black and grizzly bear, red and Arctic fox, lynx, wolverine, as well as many species of birds and fish.
The East Arm of Great Slave Lake has been home to Indigenous peoples since time immemorial. After the arrival of European explorers, this unique ecological area continued to play a central role in the lives and cultures of Indigenous peoples and also formed an important part of travel, trade, and natural resources development in the Northwest Territories.
Thaidene Nene means ‘Land of the Ancestors’ in the Dënesųłiné—or Chipewyan—language. Indigenous rights will continue to be exercised and protected in Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, including the right to harvest food through hunting, trapping, and fishing.
Thaidene Nene will have the status of a national park “reserve” until land claims with the Akaitcho Dene First Nations, and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation have been settled. North Slave Métis Alliance also assert rights in the area.
The Government of Canada will be investing $40 million towards infrastructure and for the operations of the national park reserve in the first 12 years and $3.4 million annually for operations thereafter.
An operational management board and a regional management board, based on a consensus model, will be established for the national park reserve.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
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