Parks Canada

Parks Canada

October 13, 2006 14:47 ET

The Government of Canada and Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation Take Steps to Create a New National Park on East Arm of Great Slave Lake

LUTSEL K'E, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 13, 2006) - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today signed and celebrated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Chief Adeline Jonasson, Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, to advance the work of creating a new national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. The agreement represents a significant achievement for a proposal that was first identified in 1970 by Parks Canada.

By taking real and concrete actions, the Government of Canada confirmed its support for the protected areas strategy in Canada's north.

"Canada has a tremendous opportunity and obligation to advance the protection of its special wilderness and natural areas, and nowhere is the opportunity more real than in northern Canada," said Minister Ambrose. "Canada's New Government believes that Canadians have a special love for and spiritual connection to national parks, places that are special, places where the beauty of nature is for all to behold."

Parks Canada has identified a preliminary 'area of interest' for a national park in the East Arm area that covers a total surface area of 33,525 km(2) (29,560 km(2) is land, 3,965 km(2) is water). This ecologically diverse area represents a spectacular part of Canada where the change from boreal forest to tundra is more pronounced than anywhere in the country. It represents the Northwestern Boreal Upland Natural Region in the national park system and is an area that has exceptional opportunities for memorable visitor experiences.

"The protection of Thaydene Nene is critical to the continued integrity of not only this pristine and beautiful natural landscape, but also to the well-being of the Akaitcho Dene people who have thrived on this land since time immemorial," said Chief Adeline Jonasson. "The signing of this MOU is a significant step forward towards the conservation of our sacred places and cultural heritage. We anticipate working together with Parks Canada in our new partnership."

Parks Canada is responsible for a system 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. These commitments 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.


BACKGROUNDER

PROPOSED NATIONAL PARK

EAST ARM OF GREAT SLAVE LAKE (NWT)

Spectacular cliffs, the deep clear waters of Great Slave Lake and populations of moose, bear and wolf will be protected in this proposed national park. Lands for this proposed park have been set aside since 1970. With the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement in October 2006, work has begun in earnest on a feasibility study, including consultations, with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation and other interests.

Background

- In the 1970, an area of 7407 km(2) in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake was set aside for national park purposes by a federal Order-in-Council. Over the next three decades, a series of negotiation took place with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation to define a national park located in East Arm. The negotiations lead to a reassessment of the initial planned national park area for East Arm of Great Slave Lake to accommodate the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation area and protect and conserve part of their traditional territory which they call 'Thaydene Nene'.

- The Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation is now in negotiations with Canada for the protection of lands in its traditional territory under the Akaitcho/Treaty 8 Process. A national park in the East Arm area is part of this initiative.

- In 2005, the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation delineated an area it calls 'Thaydene Nene', a part of its traditional territory that it proposes to protect through the establishment of a national park and other conservation measures. They also urged Parks Canada to reassess the boundaries of the 1970 East Arm National Park proposal.

- In response to this request, Parks Canada identified a preliminary 'area of interest' for a national park in the East Arm area that meets representation, ecological integrity and visitor enjoyment/understanding objectives. The preliminary 'area of interest' covers a total surface area of 33,525 km(2) (29,560 km(2) is land, 3,965 km(2) is water).

- Parks Canada and the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation have negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides for a process of consultation with the First Nation on the feasibility of park establishment.

- If the creation of a national park in this area proves feasible, it would protect an outstanding example of the Northwestern Boreal Uplands (Natural Region 17) in the national park system for this and future generations of Canadians.

- Noteworthy features in the area include the spectacular Pethei, Kahochella and Douglas Peninsulas, the Lockhart River canyons, Tyrell Falls, and Christie Bay, the deepest water in North America.

- It is also an important wintering area for several herds of barren-ground caribou, and supports viable populations of native species such as wolf, moose, wolverine, great-horned owl, American marten, and other fur-bearers.

- Important cultural features found in the 'area of interest' include the traditional hunting and fishing areas of the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, the remanants of historic Fort Reliance, and Pike's Portage linking Great Slave and Artillery Lake.

(Also available on the Internet at www.pc.gc.ca under Media Room.)

Contact Information

  • Parks Canada
    Joanne Huppe, Communications Advisor
    National Corporate Communications Branch
    819-953-8699 / 613-799-6269