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DELINE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, April 14, 2009--The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today announced steps taken to permanently protect Saoyú and Æehdacho National Historic Site of Canada – an area approximately the size of Prince Edward Island – on the shores of Great Bear Lake.

“Saoyú and Æehdacho represents an Aboriginal cultural landscape of great importance to the Sahtu and of national historic significance to all Canadians,” said Minister Prentice. “I’m proud that our Government is helping to ensure the long-term preservation of a unique part of Canada’s north and its heritage. Elders will continue to have the opportunity to transmit their knowledge and experience to the younger generation of Sahtugot’ine, ensuring opportunities for the preservation of their history, language and culture.”

Minister Prentice announced that a land transfer agreement has been concluded between Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Parks Canada that transfers the surface title of the national historic site to Parks Canada. This will permit the site to be listed in the National Historic Sites Order under the Canada National Parks Act and for regulations to be enforced to protect the site.

A co-operative management agreement, signed between the Government of Canada, the Déline Land Corporation and the Déline Renewable Resources Council, makes Saoyú and Æehdacho the first northern cultural landscape commemorated by the Government of Canada, the first northern national historic site co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and an Aboriginal group, and the first protected area established under the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy. The agreement provides for a total of $8.75 million over 10 years in Government of Canada funding for initial development and ongoing operational costs of the site.

“This announcement is another example of our government's ongoing commitment to work in partnership with First Nations to manage sites that are important to local communities, Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians,” said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.

“Saoyú and Æehdacho is an important cultural and spiritual area and the land is alive with the stories of our people. Without the land, the stories die,” said Chief Raymond Tutcho, Déline First Nation. “Full protection of this land ensures that these stories can forever enrich our people and be shared with all Canadians.”

Saoyú and Æehdacho National Historic Site of Canada was designated in 1996, and represents an Aboriginal cultural landscape of 5565 km2 located on two peninsulas at Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories. There is a wealth of oral histories and stories tied to the specific places found throughout Saoyú and Æehdacho and the area represents the importance of traditional narratives to the culture of the Sahtugot’ine. The Elders’ vision for Saoyú and Æehdacho is one of continued teaching and healing, a place that forever helps to sustain the culture and well-being of the Sahtugot’ine people.

Parks Canada works to ensure that Canada’s historic and natural heritage is presented and protected for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of all Canadians, today and in the future. Through a network of 42 national parks, 162 national historic sites, and three national marine conservation areas, Parks Canada invites Canadians, and people from around the world, to experience Canada’s treasured natural and historic places.


Frédéric Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment

Joanne Huppé
Media Relations Advisor
Parks Canada
819 953-8699

Backgrounder associated with this News Release.