Parks Canada

Parks Canada

November 21, 2007 12:09 ET

Government of Canada Takes Landmark Action to Conserve Canada's North

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2007) - The Government of Canada has taken yet another major step to protect and conserve Canada's north by announcing the withdrawal of over 10 million hectares of land, one of the largest land conservation initiatives in Canadian history near the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, and around the Ramparts River and Wetlands, both in the Northwest Territories.

"Conservation is a top priority for our government. In January, I made a number of commitments and we are delivering," said the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment. "Our Government believes that our actions speak louder than words. In just the last 12 months, we have delivered real action on conservation. We are doing even more by withdrawing massive areas from industrial development to protect some of the most impressive ecological and cultural wonders in the North for generations to come."

The interim land withdrawals announced today by Minister Baird and the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians are a major step forward towards creating a national park in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and a national wildlife area for the Ramparts River and Wetlands (Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta). The Government is also pleased to announce an Interim Land Withdrawal to protect approximately 62,000 square kilometers with the Akaitcho Dene First Nations from the allowance of mineral staking, sale or lease during the course of negotiations.

"Our government is fully committed to the North and we will continue to work with the three territories in order to improve opportunities and help meet the needs of northerners," said Minister Strahl. "Canada's negotiation team has worked with the Akaitcho and the Government of the Northwest Territories to reach this important milestone in the Akaitcho process. I commend the hard work of all the parties."

The anouncement was made during a celebration with Chiefs of the Akaitcho Dene First Nations, the Chief of Fort Good Hope (K'asho Got'ine) and representatives of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation.

"It is with great happiness and honour for the Lutsel K'e Denesuline to have the area recognized as an area to be protected," said Chief Adeline Jonasson of the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, near the East Arm of Great Slave lake. "The area is of importance to the Lutsel K'e Dene for their physical and spiritual well-being ... the place where our ancestors chose for us to live centuries ago. We give thanks to the Creator for the land, water and wildlife and to all the support we received for this important milestone."

"Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta is important to us and the Northwest Territories,"
said Chief Frank T'seleie of the K'asho Cot'ine Charter Community Council. "I congratulate the Government of Canada for its commitment to working with various partners and the Territory to obtain legislated protection as a National Wildlife Area enabling the protection of important wildlife habitat."

Also in attendance at the celebration at the Canadian Museum of Nature were representatives from national environmental stakeholders, including the Canadian Boreal Initiative, The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Ducks Unlimited and the World Wildlife Fund.

"The Government of Canada and First Nations deserve tremendous credit for their innovation, vision and commitment," said Larry Innes, Executive Director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative, an organization dedicated to the conservation and sustainable development of the Boreal Forest. "Canada is taking the lead internationally when it comes to making balanced decisions about protecting and preserving land for future generations."

Today's announcement once again shows the Government's commitment to an integrated Northern Strategy focused on strengthening Canada's sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting economic and social development, and improving and devolving governance. Today's announcement supports environmental protection efforts, as well as efforts to ensure that northerners have greater control over their destinies, as a result of Aboriginal land claims and self-government negotiations.

"All total, today's announcement by the federal government amounts to the largest land withdrawal for interim protection in Canadian history," said Lorne Johnson, Ottawa Bureau Director, WWF-Canada. "This is a great example of sequencing conservation first, up front in the development process, while we still have a chance to protect the North's lands and waters."

In the last year alone, the Government of Canada has committed to:

- a massive expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve;

- creation of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area;

- $30 million to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia;

- $3 million to the restoration of Stanley Park in Vancouver and Point Pleasant Park in Halifax;

- $225 million for the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve and conserve up to half a million acres of land across the country;

- $5 million to protect the Sahoyue ehdacho National Historic Site on the shores of Great Bear Lake, the largest lake in Canada.

"Today's announcement, together with federal commitments earlier this year to massively expand the NWT's Nahanni National Park and protect Sahoyue ehdacho National Historic Site, represent historic progress towards conserving Canada's northern ecosystems. CPAWS is proud to have worked on this for many years with First Nations, other governments and partner conservation organizations and we look forward to continuing this important work while the opportunity still exists," says Anne Levesque, National Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

The Government will be also providing $3 million for a study to assess the feasibility of establishing a national park in the vicinity of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and $830,000 over five years to establish the Ramparts River and Wetlands National Wildlife Area.

Shannon Haszard, NWT Regional Manager for Ducks Unlimited Canada, stated "We'd like to especially congratulate the Fort Good Hope Dene and Metis and the Akaitcho First Nations for taking the initiative to protect these areas. It is great to see the communities achieve their wish to protect important sacred places and lands that countless generations have used for hunting, trapping, fishing and spiritual renewal."

Also available on the Internet at under Media Room.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Eric Richer
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Indian Affairs and
    Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor
    for Metis and Non-Status Indians
    Philippe Mailhot
    Press Secretary
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations
    819-934-8008 or 1-888-908-8008
    Indian and Northern Affairs
    Media Relations
    Parks Canada
    National Corporate Communications
    Joanne Huppe
    Media Relations Advisor