The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has signed a historic agreement with its Indigenous partners in the K’asho Got’ı̨nę district of the Northwest Territories to establish and collaboratively manage a new territorial protected area.

Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta near Fort Good Hope is an important cultural and spiritual area where wildlife is abundant and the Sahtú Dene and Métis hunt, fish and trap and live on the land as they have for generations. In this protected area, younger generations will continue to learn about their culture and history.

“Tuyeta, what makes it special is that is has everything you want, all the animals, forest, lakes and waters flowing. It has moose, caribou, fish, bears, beavers, rabbits and all kinds of birds you wouldn’t normally see in different places,”  K’asho Got’ı̨nę Elder, Vicky Orlias said. “I feel that’s very special. I guess the scenery, places and memories people have like going back over their own places, trails, and on rivers they’ve been before. A very special place to be there and be a part of.”

Located in the Ramparts River watershed of the Sahtú region, Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta is a critical wetland that provides key habitat for migratory birds and many species that are at risk, including grizzly bear, northern mountain caribou, wolverine, short-eared owl and boreal woodland caribou.

The protection of this unique place will help to conserve the cultural significance of the area, as well as the biodiversity. The GNWT and the K’asho Got’ı̨nę signed an establishment agreement for Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta on September 4, 2019.

“As one of the first areas to be established under the new NWT Protected Areas Act, Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta is an example of how the Indigenous governments, organizations and GNWT can work together to support the preservation of biodiversity, culture and sustainable livelihoods in the NWT,” Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources said. “I look forward to the opportunities this area will provide for diversifying the local economy while ensuring land remains healthy for future generations.”

Once established, Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta will be permanently protected and collaboratively managed by the K’asho Got’ı̨nę and the GNWT. Local people will be involved in the management and monitoring of the land, water, plants and animals of Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta.

“Nature is one of our most precious resources. Protecting it will not only support the conservation of our biodiversity, but it is also a solution to fight climate change,” Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, from the Government of Canada said. “We will continue to work with the Government of the Northwest Territories and the K’asho Got’ine towards the establishment of Ts’udé Niliné Tuyeta. By working together, we can double the amount of nature we protect from coast to coast.”

Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta is approximately 10,050 km2 in size and lies west of the Mackenzie River and the community of Fort Good Hope. It was identified by the Sahtú Dene and Métis as an important ecological and cultural area worthy of long-term protection in 1993 when the Sahtúc Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement was signed.

Substantial funding has been obtained to support the establishment and planning for the management and monitoring of Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta for the next four years (2019-2023) through the Government of Canada’s Canada Nature Fund, the International Boreal Conservation Campaign and the Wyss Foundation.

The establishment of Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta helps the GNWT fulfill its commitments under Healthy Land, Healthy People action plan, contributes to Canada’s Target 1 initiative, mitigation efforts under the 2030 NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework and, more broadly, supports the GNWT’s commitment to working with Indigenous governments to advance their priorities.

Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta is the second territorial protected area to be established using the new NWT Protected Areas Act following the creation of Thaidene Nëné in August 2019.

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