Canadians are fortunate to have an abundance of nature right in our backyards; a gift that comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility to protect it. Thaidene Nene is an area of pristine wilderness in the Northwest Territories that Parks Canada and local Indigenous communities are working hard to protect – for today, and for future generations.
During a virtual gathering, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, signed an agreement with Chief Ernest Betsina and Chief Edward Sangris representing the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Today’s signing completes the partnerships between Parks Canada, and the two other Akaitcho First Nations, the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation and the Deninu K’ue First Nation, on the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve Regional Management Board. It also marks the completion of the suite of federal agreements required for Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve.
Details of the final agreement include the Yellowknives Dene First Nation role on the Regional Management Board for Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve; how their traditional knowledge will be acknowledged and incorporated in the management of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve; commitments to training and employment in the park reserve; and, opportunities for future contracting. Additionally, Parks Canada will provide support to the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in the development of a tourism and boat access route strategy for the national park reserve aimed at stimulating economic activity for their membership within their territories.
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation entered into Treaty 8 in 1900 and currently is one of the Akaitcho First Nations negotiating a land claim agreement. In 1914, Chief Suzie Drygeese drew a map describing the traditional hunting grounds of the Yellowknives Dene; that territory has come to be known as Chief Drygeese Territory and stretches to the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. The Yellowknives Dene First Nation has two communities, Ndilo and Dettah, where historically the peoples had their gatherings and took advantage of the abundant fishing and berry picking in the area. The communities are independent, but relatively close to the city of Yellowknife.
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. Located at the eastern end of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve protects 14,305 square kilometres, and is part of a larger group of existing and proposed protected areas around the East Arm and Artillery Lake regions.
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, collaboration, and partnership. It also helps the Government work towards protecting a quarter of lands and a quarter of oceans in Canada by 2025.