Proposed Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve
© David Murray, Parks Canada
The Government of Canada approached Chief Pierre Catholique of Łutsël K'e Dene First Nation (ŁKDFN), then known as the Snowdrift Band, with the concept for a new national park. At the time, there was insufficient support for the park proposal to proceed.
To leave the option for a national park open, an area of 7,340km2 was set aside in a land withdrawal under the Territorial Lands Act in 1970.
In the latter half of the 1980s, provisions for establishment of a national park were negotiated as part of the Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim. During this period Parks Canada entered into consultations with affected Dene and Métis; the federal government completed a Mineral and Energy Resource Assessment (MERA) for the 1970 land withdrawal; Parks Canada and the GNWT solicited public input about the proposal; and Parks Canada proposed boundaries for the national park.
The Dene and Métis General Assembly rejected elements of the Dene and Métis Agreement and the federal government began a series of regional negotiations to settle the claims of the Dene and Métis of the Mackenzie Valley.
Chief Felix Lockhart of ŁKDFN approached the Government of Canada to renew discussions about a proposed national park.
With initiation of the Akaitcho Treaty 8 negotiations, ŁKDFN resumed discussions with Parks Canada about the national park proposal.
© Wayne Lynch, Parks Canada
ŁKDFN requested that the Government of Canada reconsider the boundaries of the 1970 land withdrawal. In response, Parks Canada initiated a study to reassess the ‘area of interest’ for a national park including additional lands surrounding the East Arm of Great Slave Lake.
ŁKDFN Chief Adeline Jonasson and the Federal Minister of Environment and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding which defined a process for working together on matters pertaining to establishing a national park.
An Interim Land Withdrawal of 26,350 km2 was added to the 1970 land withdrawal bringing the total study area to 33,690 km2. ŁKDFN Elders proposed the name Thaidene Nëné for the study area which means ‘Land of the Ancestors’ in the Chipewyan language.
Parks Canada commissioned an Assessment of Landscape Values (Our Landscape Values) study for the Thaidene Nëné area to identify and assess ecological goods and services, and incorporate these goods and services into a cost-benefit analysis, for the potential establishment of a national park reserve.
Canada’s Northern Strategy was released including the conservation initiative to create a national park in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake.
Parks Canada and ŁKDFN signed a Framework Agreement and began negotiation of an Establishment Agreement for the proposed Thaidene Nëné national park reserve. Parks Canada and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation (NWTMN) furthered discussions about the proposed negotiation of and Impact and Benefit Agreement. As well a draft National Parks Chapter was further considered within the Land and Resources Agreement between the NWTMN, the government of Canada and the GNWT.
Parks Canada and ŁKDFN negotiators reached an agreement in principle on most elements of an Establishment Agreement. The agreement is subject to internal review and consultation by both ŁKDFN and Parks Canada. The Impact and Benefit Agreement negotiations, based on the language in the National Parks Chapter of the Land and Resources Agreement in Principle, began between Parks Canada and the NWTMN.
Through the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, pursuant to the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement, signed by the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, the lands of the Thaidene Nëné proposal came under the administration and control of the Government of the Northwest Territories effective April 1, 2014. The Thaidene Nëné Interim Land Withdrawal, under the authority of the Territorial Lands Act was renewed and will continue to March 31, 2016.
In January, the GNWT initiated work on developing a matrix of protected area designations and northern tools for the 33,600 square kilometre Thaidene Nëné land withdrawal area. It was agreed that a In January 2015, the GNWT initiated work on developing a matrix of protected area designations and northern tools for the 33,600 km2 Thaidene Nëné land withdrawal area. Through a series of meetings with Parks Canada, GNWT, £utsël K'e Dene First Nation, Northwest Territory Métis Nation and Aboriginal groups, it was agreed that a proposal for a national park reserve of 14,000 km2 would be part of that matrix.
On June 10, Parks Canada and the NWTMN negotiators reached an agreement in principle on most elements of an Impact and Benefit Agreement. The agreement is subject to internal review and consultation by both the NWTMN and Parks Canada.
The Government of Canada announced its proposed boundary for a national park reserve in the Thaidene Nëné area on July 29th, and launched formal consultations on the boundary.