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Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for Permanent Protection of Sahoyúé §ehdacho National Historic Site of Canada

Under this Memorandum of Understanding, the Government of Canada, the Déline First Nation and Déline Land Corporation will begin negotiations for an agreement to co-operatively manage the whole of the Sahoyúé §ehdacho National Historic Site of Canada.

Background
· Sahoyúé-§ehdacho represents an Aboriginal cultural landscape of 5587 square kilometres (approximately the size of the province of Prince Edward Island) located on two peninsulas at Great Bear Lake in the Mackenzie Lowlands, Northwest Territories (NWT). The site has great cultural and spiritual significance to the Sahtugot’ine.

· The site was designated in 1997 as a result of consultations held with the Sahtugot’ine and Métis. The reason for national significance is that the cultural values of the site – expressed through the inter-relationship between the landscape, oral histories, graves and cultural resources, such as trails and cabins – help to explain and contribute to an understanding of the origin, spiritual values, lifestyle and land-use of the Sahtugot’ine.

· In 2000, the Crown lands that make up the site were withdrawn on an interim basis, providing protection from prospecting and claims on the surface and sub-surface of the Crown portion, as well as the sub-surface of the Sahtu Dene and Métis portion of the site. In 2005, the withdrawal was extended for another five years, enabling Parks Canada to continue to work with the Déline First Nation and others.

· The Crown lands portion of the site (80%) will be transferred to Parks Canada from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, allowing for its long-term legal protection.

· Once legal protection is in place, the site will be the first protected heritage area to be established under the NWT Protected Areas Strategy (PAS).

· This will be the first National Historic Site of Canada acquired on the basis of consultation with Aboriginal peoples.

· The involvement of Parks Canada in the ownership and administration of a National Historic Site of Canada is a first for the NWT.

· The co-operative management agreement to be negotiated will recognize the parties' shared ownership of the site, and also their common interests in its permanent protection in ways that respect the values that it represents.

· This national historic site will be managed in a way that enables the Sahtugot’ine to continue their traditional uses of the land and provides opportunities for Canadians to experience and appreciate the land and its heritage values.

· The funding for the site will be $5 million over 5 years for initial development costs and $700,000 annually for ongoing operational costs.

· For the Sahtugot’ine this territory is sacred, as these areas represent the importance of traditional narratives to their culture. The relationship of stories to large tracts of land is what is truly important about the Sahtugot’ine history. The stories are used to pass information from the elders to the youth of the next generation.

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News Release associated with this Backgrounder.