Federal agreement for Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve finalized with Yellowknives Dene First Nation
From: Parks Canada
September 25, 2020 Dettah, Northwest Territories Parks Canada Agency
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.
“Since time immemorial, Indigenous peoples have been stewards of the Thaidene Nene area. Parks Canada is proud to work with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, in addition to the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation, the Deninu K’ue First Nation, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, and the Government of the Northwest Territories, to protect this iconic Canadian landscape so that it can be cherished now and into the future.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Our national parks and national heritage places should honour the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories, cultures, and special relationship with traditional lands and waters. That’s what today’s agreement is all about – solidifying the role of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation in the cooperative management of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, as well as maximizing tourism benefits for their membership and supporting their involvement in interpretive and guardian activities for this treasured place.”
Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories
“The establishment of the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve in Traditional Akaitcho Territory and the signing of this agreement with the Federal government respects the will of our elders and our people. This park is a magnificent symbol and reminder of the Creator’s power and beauty represented by the land, birds, fish, animals, and pristine water which will be shared with the rest of Canada to respect and protect. The Yellowknives Dene First Nation looks forward to working with the Government of Canada and the other co-signees of the agreement in the promotion and operation of the park.”
Chief Ernest Betsina,
Yellowknives Dene First Nation
“The Yellowknives Dene First Nation is supportive of this national park. The park allows our membership to participate economically, in the protection and co-management of the park while respecting and preserving our Treaty Rights, history, culture and traditions. The signing of this agreement between our First Nation and Canada is done out of mutual respect and co-operation along with the other Indigenous First Nations.”
Chief Edward Sangris,
Yellowknives Dene 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.
- 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 guide the management of the national park reserve.
- Parliament passed legislation in September 2019 formalizing the establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve under the Canada National Parks Act.
- Agreements with the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, and the Deninu K’ue First Nation and an Agreement in Principle with the Yellowknives Dene first Nation were signed in August, 2019.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency