Na­tional park in North­west Ter­ri­to­ries to have sig­nif­i­cant abo­rig­i­nal in­put

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

The ex­pected bound­aries of a vast new pro­tected area in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries have been re­vealed, along with the unique re­la­tion­ship Parks Canada is to have with the abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple who live there.

“This is not your grand­fa­ther’s na­tional park,’’ said Steve Ni­tah, head ne­go­tia­tor for the lo­cal Dene.

Fed­eral, ter­ri­to­rial and abo­rig­i­nal of­fi­cials were on hand Wed­nes­day in the re­mote com­mu­nity of Lut­sel K’e to out­line the ne­go­ti­ated ex­tent of Thaidene Nene (pro­nounced tie-DEH-nay NEH-nay), which means Land of the An­ces­tors in Dene.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,’’ Ni­tah said.

Thaidene Nene — orig­i­nally pro­posed in the 1970s — is to cover 27,000 square kilo­me­tres of spec­tac­u­lar and pris­tine wa­ter­ways, forests and Cana­dian Shield around the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake.

About 14,000 square kilo­me­tres is to be man­aged as a na­tional park. Another 12,000 square kilo­me­tres is to be­come ei­ther ter­ri­to­rial park or pro­tected cari­bou habi­tat. The land un­der ter­ri­to­rial con­trol would have sim­i­lar pro­tec­tions to the na­tional park.

But noth­ing will be done on any of it with­out hear­ing from the Dene, Ni­tah said.

They are guar­an­teed a role with fed­eral staff in plan­ning, man­ag­ing and op­er­at­ing all as­pects of the park, said Ni­tah. They will be able to con­tinue to hunt, fish and use the land in all the tra­di­tional ways they have for cen­turies.

“It’s pretty much a joint ven­ture with Canada,’’ said Ni­tah, who added the Lut­sel K’e Dene will fund their part of the work from their own re­sources.

Ni­tah ac­knowl­edged that the bound­aries go­ing out for public con­sul­ta­tion are sig­nif­i­cantly smaller than the orig­i­nal ones. About 8,000 square kilo­me­tres have been with­drawn be­cause they are thought to hold re­source po­ten­tial.

“It was very im­por­tant for the gov­ern­ment of the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries that that hap­pen. I think we’ve done well in rep­re­sent­ing our in­ter­ests in en­sur­ing that very key eco­log­i­cal and cul­tural ar­eas were pro­tected.’’

N.W.T. En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Michael Mil­tenberger makes no apolo­gies for hiv­ing off about a quar­ter of the orig­i­nal pro­posal.

“There’s con­sid­er­able min­eral wealth, real and po­ten­tial,’’ he said. “There’s di­a­monds for sure. There’s some po­ten­tial ura­nium. We haven’t done the min­eral assess­ments nec­es­sary in all ar­eas.’’

Mil­tenberger said the re­main­ing land is large enough to pro­tect the ecosys­tem and will also con­nect with con­ser­va­tion ar­eas to the east, such as the Th­elon Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary.

Thaidene Nene in­cludes both bo­real for­est and tun­dra threaded with lakes, rivers and wa­ter­falls. The east arm of Great Slave Lake boasts spec­tac­u­lar cliffs and is­lands and some of the deep­est fresh­wa­ter in North Amer­ica.

Wildlife in­cludes moose, muskoxen, wolves, bears, wolver­ines, many species of birds and fish and the Bev­erly-Ahiak bar­ren-ground cari­bou herd.

Thaidene Nene is a Dene home­land, said Ni­tah.

“Our whole mem­ory and un­der­stand­ing of who we are comes from there. Our cul­ture and lan­guage is pretty tied to the land.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.