© Wayne Lynch, Parks Canada
The goal of establishing a national park is to: protect the diversity of vegetation and landscape features of representative ecosystems; maintain the ecological integrity of wildlife habitat and plant species; and provide opportunities for quality visitor experiences such as recreational activities and the presentation of natural and cultural heritage. In the specific case of Thaidene Nene, an important aspect is the protection and cooperative management of a cultural landscape that is critical to Indigenous people, having sustained them for generations.
Thaidene Nene’s spectacular wilderness characteristics already attract many visitors and local residents each year. While remote, the area’s proximity to the City of Yellowknife allows for a degree of access that is less common in other northern national parks. Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve will also be easily accessed through the gateway community of Łutsël K’e, whether by water or by air.
Ecological and Cultural Importance
Thaidene Nene is a spectacular area of ecological and cultural importance in the Northwest Territories. The living connections between land and people, water and land, forest and tundra make Thaidene Nene a national treasure. Thaidene Nene is a living legacy for future generations, including important cultural features, as well as traditional hunting, fishing, gathering and spiritual areas used by various Indigenous peoples.
The Thaidene Nene area is characterized by: numerous lakes, rivers and waterfalls, a striking archipelago of islands, peninsulas, landscape formations shaped by ancient ice sheets, dramatic cliffs, a variety of climates, soils and ecosystem processes. The vegetation varies from open woodlands and forests carpeted with mosses and shrubs, to lichen-covered tundra with occasional clumps of low-growing plants. This diverse ecological region is also home to many boreal and tundra mammals such as barren-ground caribou, moose, muskox, grey wolf, black and grizzly bear, red and Arctic fox, lynx, wolverine, otter, beaver, muskrat, as well as many species of birds and fish.
Thaidene Nene has long been an important cultural area for the people of Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation and their ancestors as described in their vision. The Northwest Territory Métis Nation also has long standing ties to the Thaidene Nene area as do other Indigenous groups.
The Thaidene Nene area was first visited by Europeans in the early 1800s, explored for northern travel and trade corridors including the route used to access the tundra from Great Slave Lake, now known as Pike’s Portage. The remains of Fort Reliance, which served as a base in searches for the missing John Ross expedition and later the missing Sir John Franklin expedition, is also located in the national park reserve. Fort Reliance is designated both a national historic site and a territorial historic site.
© Wayne Lynch, Parks Canada
The Thaidene Nene area includes a complex mosaic of lakes, cliffs, beaches, islands, waterfalls and some of North America’s deepest waters in renowned Great Slave Lake. This rugged and scenic landscape spans an abrupt transition from boreal forest to tundra and is important habitat for large and small mammals, fish, as well as providing key waterfowl staging areas and critical nesting for birds of prey.
Prior to making any final decisions on the national park reserve, Parks Canada undertook and concluded consultations with Indigenous groups and communities, stakeholders and third-party interests, and the public. It then reported on the results of these consultations to the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada.
Thaidene Nene achieves key conservation objectives and enhances economic opportunities in the area. Thaidene Nene:
- represents a previously unrepresented natural region of the national park system;
- has a configuration that will maintain ecological integrity;
- includes areas that will provide iconic visitor experiences;
- will allow for tourism investments that benefit communities;
- excludes all areas of high mineral potential;
- will accommodate third party interests; and
- is a significant contribution to the National Conservation Plan.