The Yellowknives Dene and the GNWT have committed to collaborate on advancing the Slave Geological Province Corridor project, according to a release.
Yellowknives Dene Chief Edward Sangris and Chief Ernest Betsina met with Premier Caroline Cochrane, Minister of Infrastructure Diane Archie, and Minister of Finance Caroline Wawzonek on September 25 to agree to greater collaboration on the project.
The major project, which is estimated to cost $1.1 billion would connect Nunavut by road to the rest of Canada for the first time, has been in the planning stage since early 2019.
It would replace the existing ice road — which a 2019 report found is vulnerable to climate change — with a 413 kilometre long, two-lane gravel road, stretching from Highway 4, past the
Mines to the Nunavut/NT border.
The road would also make it more feasible to expand the dam at the Taltson Hydro System and provide easier access to the Ekati and Diavik diamond mines, which would help cut down on industrial emissions, according to the release.
“Partnerships with Indigenous governments and organizations are imperative to the success of projects like the Slave Geological Province Corridor, which will help us to expand and diversify our economy, together,” Premier Caroline Cochrane said in a statement.
The GNWT’s agreement with the Yellowknives Dene sets the path for collaboration with other Indigenous governments, according to the release.
“Economically, the Northwest Territories is at a critical juncture,” said Chief Yellowknives Dene Chief Edward Sangris.
“Indigenous, territorial, federal and municipal governments must work together to move projects forward that will stimulate the economy, create employment, attract investment and ensure a bright future for all Northerners while respecting Indigenous Traditions, Culture, Treaty Rights and Title.”
Stage 1 of the development of the project will see the construction of 179 kilometres of road, connecting Highway 4 to Lockhart Lake. Stage 2 would connect Lockhart Lake to Luc De Gras diamond mines, and stage 3 would continue the road beyond the mines to the territorial border.
To this stage, $43,990,000 has been spent on the development of the project, most of that coming from federal sources.