Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories establishes large new Indigenous Protected Area in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories.
Łutsël K’e, NWT — On Wednesday, August 21st, Chief Darryl Marlowe of the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) will sign agreements with the Parks Canada Agency and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) to jointly establish Thaidene Nëné (“Land of the Ancestors” in Denesǫłine Yati, the local Indigenous language) as a large new protected area in the Northwest Territories.
Thaidene Nëné will permanently protect 26,376 km2 of nationally significant boreal forest, tundra, and freshwater ecosystems in and around the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and beyond. These pristine ecosystems, highlighted by sharp cliffs, deep lakes, and rushing rivers, teem with caribou, muskoxen, wolves, and fish. These healthy ecosystems sustain the culture and livelihood of the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation and other Northern communities.
The LKDFN will protect the entirety of Thaidene Nëné as an Indigenous Protected Area using its own Indigenous Law. In partnership, Parks Canada will protect the 14,305 km2 core of Thaidene Nëné as a National Park Reserve using the Canada National Parks Act, and the GNWT will protect an abutting 12,071 km2 as territorial protected and conserved area under the Territorial Protected Areas Act and Wildlife Act. Thaidene Nëné will contribute about 1.7% to Canada’s efforts to meet commitments to protect 17% of lands and inland waters.
Thaidene Nëné also represents a significant precedent towards advancing reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians. LKDFN, Parks Canada, and the GNWT will share jurisdiction and responsibility for managing Thaidene Nëné. Decisions will be made by consensus. LKDFN will also play a key role in staffing and operations through the Ni hat’ni Dene Rangers—"Watchers of the Land” who will serve as the guardians of Thaidene Nëné.
Thaidene Nëné will also directly contribute to new economic opportunities in the region. A significant number of new local jobs in resource management and visitor engagement will be located in Łutsël K’e. Local people have launched new tourism enterprises, and are already taking advantage of the economic promise of Thaidene Nëné and its relative accessibility to visitors, as compared any other protected area in the NWT or Nunavut. A Thaidene Nëné interpretation and administrative centre will be built in Łutsël K’e to welcome visitors, and additional facilities and services are being planned.
In a statement at the event, Chief Darryl Marlowe stated: “The protection and stewardship of Thaidene Nëné 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 Nëné for the Łutsël K’e Denesǫłine is a decades 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, 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.”