Huge protected area moves ahead in Canada’s NWT

Erica Janes, Conservation Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Northwest Territories shares exciting news about Thaidene Nene.  Since 2011, The Conservation Alliance awarded four grants totaling $155,000 to support this campaign.
With both federal and territorial elections looming in Canada in the fall, we are thrilled that significant progress has been made over the summer in finalizing protection for Thaidene Nene, the Land of the Ancestors. This huge area of sparkling lakes and rushing rivers as far as the eye can see spans the transition from boreal forest to tundra, around and beyond the shores of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. It’s the traditional homeland of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, accessible by boat in summer, and by plane and snowmobile in winter, from the NWT capital city of Yellowknife. Within a couple of years, new parks there should be open for adventurous visitors from far and wide!
In mid-July, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) unveiled their proposed boundaries for territorial park and caribou conservation zone areas within the Thaidene Nene study area, and embarked on a public consultation program. The details around these protection mechanisms are still to be worked out – and you can rest assured that CPAWS will continue to be involved to ensure permanent and robust protection – but we have heartily congratulated the GNWT on this huge step forward in NWT conservation.
Then on July 29th, just four days before a federal election was called for October 19th, the Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Environment Minister traveled to Lutsel K’e to unveil the boundary of the proposed national park reserve portion of Thaidene Nene, and launched a parallel federal public consultation process. This would not have happened without the dedication of the entire Thaidene Nene team, or the strong encouragement from many citizens and opinion influencers whom we were able to rally.
Following public consultations, Parks Canada, the GNWT and the LKDFN will continue to negotiate the details of two separate establishment agreements, keeping in mind the goal of creating a contiguous protected area and seamless visitor experience. We expect that Thaidene Nene will be established within the next couple of years.
Commitments from both the territorial and federal governments in advance of the upcoming fall elections for both governments signal a major step forward for Thaidene Nene, and speak to the constructive and collaborative work between all levels of government that has been done in the past several months.
Continued support from The Conservation Alliance and others has enabled CPAWS to work closely with the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation in building public awareness and support for this bold conservation vision that not only encompasses protecting land, water and wildlife, but also fosters cultural continuity and promises to provide the basis of a regional and sustainable tourism economy based on conservation.
You can send a letter of congratulations to Parks Canada, the GNWT and the LKDFN via the Thaidene Nene Action Centre, and stay tuned for more on this incredible conservation opportunity in Canada’s NWT.