Indigenous groups plan to develop new protected conservation area in N.W.T. 

YELLOWKNIFE-Two Indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories are working to establish a new Indigenous protected and conservation area.

Deninu Kue First Nation and the Fort Resolution Metis Government are planning to protect portions of their traditional territory in the Slave River Delta and Taltson River watershed.

They say the protections are crucial for food security and economic and cultural activities.


The groups have signed a $3.1-million contribution agreement with Environment and Climate Change Canada to establish the new area.

Ducks Unlimited Canada and the N.W.T. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society are supporting the effort.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau separately announced this week $800 million in funding over seven years for four large Indigenous-led conservation across Canada.

They includes protections for boreal forests, rivers and lands across the N.W.T., spearheaded by 30 Indigenous governments and organizations.

“Fresh water is needed for life. It is vital to our culture, social and ecological well-being of the Dene people living in the N.W.T.,” Deninu Kue First Nation Chief Louis Balsillie said in a statement. “We need to protect these ecosystems.”

“Water is like the blood in our veins, and the land is our body,” said Arthur Beck, resident of the Fort Resolution Metis Government.

“If you pollute or cut off water, the land will die. Water is the fundamental element of who we are, and we must all work together to protect and conserve it.”

The Indigenous governments said the area is an important habitat for moose, fish, fur bearing mammals, and ducks and geese.

It’s also “hot spot for migratory birds” and has extensive spawning areas for fish as well as peatlands and old growth forests that contribute to carbon storage.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.


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