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YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, MARCH 11, 2007 – The Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada today announced the signing of a landmark agreement between Parks Canada, the Déline First Nation and the Déline Land Corporation to work towards permanently protecting and cooperatively managing Sahoyúé - §ehdacho National Historic Site of Canada. The Federal Government is funding $5 million over 5 years for initial development and $700,000 annually for ongoing operational costs of the site.

“Canada’s New Government is committed to the conservation of nationally significant heritage areas. Today, this step ensures the preservation of this cultural and natural treasure for present and future generations,” said Minister Baird. “Much of the credit for today’s announcement belongs to the Déline First Nation and their generous efforts a decade ago to bring these special landscapes forward for recognition as a national historic site. Since then, they have worked tirelessly with others to protect these special places for their children and at the same time to share them with all Canadians.”

Under the agreement, all parties commit to working to permanently protect the Sahoyúé - §ehdacho National Historic Site – an area of land the size of Prince Edward Island located on the shores of Great Bear Lake, the 9th largest lake in the world and the largest lake in Canada. As well, the parties will negotiate an agreement to co-operatively manage the whole national historic site. The co-operative management agreement will recognize the parties' shared ownership and common interests in the site. 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.

“This agreement is a significant step in ensuring the lasting protection of Sahoyúé - §ehdacho National Historic Site and represents a number of firsts,” said the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. “Most importantly, this is the first heritage area established under the Protected Area Strategy of the Northwest Territories. With this, Canada’s New Government will ensure the long-term preservation of a unique part of Canada’s heritage.”

"This is a very special day for the people of Déline. They have worked long and hard to ensure places of historical significance are recognized and protected. This is a very important step for them and for all Northerners. I am proud of the role the Government of the Northwest Territories played in bringing this to fruition," said Premier Handley. "I also want to congratulate the Government of Canada for their vision in working with Northerners to make this happen.”

"Today is a chance to be good ancestors," said Monte Hummel, President Emeritus of WWF-Canada. "Many conservation groups and levels of government have supported this important conservation initiative, but the lead has always been with the community of Déline. WWF certainly welcomes Sahoyúé - §ehdacho as the first element of a package of sites awaiting announcement through the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy. Good work, Minister Baird!"

Sahoyúé - §ehdacho National Historic Site of Canada was designated in 1997 as a result of consultations held with the Sahtú Dene and Métis. This site represents an Aboriginal cultural landscape of 5587 square kilometres located on two peninsulas at Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories (NWT). These areas represent the importance of traditional narratives to the culture of the Sahtugot’ine. The relationship of stories to the land is truly important; this is how the information is passed to the next generation. Protecting landscape features that relate to stories is critical to the survival of the Sahtugot’ine traditions on the land.

Parks Canada is responsible for a network of national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites that is recognized as one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected areas in the world. This commitment will help Parks Canada fulfill its mandate to present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage to Canadians, today and in the future.


Eric Richer
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
819 997-1441

Joanne Huppé
Media Relations
National Corporate Communications Branch
Parks Canada
819 953-8699 / 613 799-6269

Julia Mott
Cabinet Communications
Office of the Premier of the Northwest Territories
(867) 669-2304

Backgrounder associated with this News Release.