Canada and First Na­tions cre­ate new park

‘It’s what our an­ces­tors meant,’ shar­ing the land

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World -

LUTSEL K’E, N.W.T. — A deal on a vast new na­tional park re­serve in the North is be­ing called a model for fu­ture re­la­tion­ships be­tween First Na­tions and Canada.

“This is what our an­ces­tors meant when they en­tered into treaty with Canada,” said Steve Ni­tah, who rep­re­sented In­dige­nous groups in talks that led to the Thaidene Nene Na­tional Park Re­serve in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

“We agreed to share the land, its re­sources, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for man­age­ment, and to ben­e­fit to­gether.”

Thaidene Nene — Land of the An­ces­tors — pro­tects 26,376 square kilo­me­tres of pris­tine wa­ters and healthy for­est in and around the east arm of Great Slave Lake. The agree­ment, signed Wed­nes­day be­tween the fed­eral and ter­ri­to­rial gov­ern­ments and four First Na­tions, gives In­dige­nous peo­ple an un­prece­dented role in the park’s op­er­a­tion.

It is to be co-man­aged by Parks Canada and the Lutsel K’e First Na­tion. Neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties will have a role in de­vel­op­ing the park plan.

There will be at least eight full-time jobs to mon­i­tor and pro­tect the land and run a vis­i­tor and op­er­a­tions cen­tre in Lutsel K’e. In­dige­nous peo­ple will be able to hunt, fish and carry out other tra­di­tional ac­tiv­i­ties as they al­ways have.

It’s the way of the fu­ture, said fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna — es­pe­cially if Canada is to meet its in­ter­na­tion­ally promised tar­get of 17 per cent of its land un­der pro­tec­tion by 2020.

“It was clear that the only way you could do that was in part­ner­ship with In­dige­nous peo­ple,” she said. “This fol­lows along that vi­sion.”

No industrial ac­tiv­i­ties will be al­lowed. Non-In­dige­nous vis­i­tors will be barred from big-game hunt­ing, but can oth­er­wise use the area.

About 14,000 square kilo­me­tres is to be man­aged as a na­tional park. An­other 12,000 square kilo­me­tres will be un­der ter­ri­to­rial leg­is­la­tion with sim­i­lar pro­tec­tion as the fed­eral area.

Camp­grounds and other in­fra­struc­ture are to be de­vel­oped. The park will be mar­keted as a tourist des­ti­na­tion, said Ni­tah.

Vis­i­tors will ex­pe­ri­ence both boreal for­est and tun­dra threaded with lakes, rivers and wa­ter­falls. The lake boasts cliffs and is­lands and some of the deep­est fresh­wa­ter in North Amer­ica.

Wildlife in the area in­cludes moose, muskox, wolves, bears, wolver­ines, cari­bou and many species of birds and fish.

“It’s the heart of our home­land,” Ni­tah said. “We want to be able to en­sure that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions can de­pend on it for sus­te­nance, cul­tural preser­va­tion and spir­i­tual guid­ance.”

He said south­ern First Na­tions are al­ready look­ing at the Thaidene Nene agree­ment as a model for talks with Parks Canada.

The deal took more than 50 years to work out. Over­lap­ping land claims and con­cerns about min­eral re­sources made the talks com­pli­cated, McKenna said.

About 8,000 square kilo­me­tres orig­i­nally pro­posed for the park were removed be­cause of po­ten­tially valu­able nat­u­ral de­posits.

Thaidene Nene brings Canada’s in­ven­tory of pro­tected ar­eas to just over 12 per cent, an in­crease of two per­cent­age points un­der the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

More is com­ing. A $1-bil­lion fed­eral-pri­vate con­ser­va­tion fund has been over­whelmed with ap­pli­ca­tions, McKenna said.

“Many of those are with In­dige­nous peo­ple. They don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be na­tional parks.”

Ni­tah’s just glad Thaidene Nene is fi­nally on the books.

“That’s where I grew up, on the land in bush camps. Sum­mers on the tun­dra, fall in the boreal, fol­low­ing the trap­ping sea­sons. It’s close to my heart, and close to all the peo­ple from Lutsel K’e.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Thaidene Nene — Land of the An­ces­tors — pro­tects 26,376 square kilo­me­tres of pris­tine wa­ters and healthy for­est in and around the east arm of Great Slave Lake, N.W.T. It will be a model for fu­ture con­ser­va­tion ef­forts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.