Nahanni Butte launching new guardian program to help manage Nahanni park

The new Nahʔą Dehé K’ehodi program will bring 10 jobs to the community.

A Nahanni Butte community member on the South Nahanni River. (File photo/CKLB)

The Nahʔą Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte has a new on-the-land guardianship program in the works.

The Nahʔą Dehé K’ehodi program is part of a recent agreement between the band, Dehcho First Nations and Parks Canada to advance the co-management of Nahanni National Park Reserve.

According to Soham Srimani, Nahʔą Dehé Dene Band manager, the agreement has been in the works for 13 years.

“The major part about the guardians program is we will be able to create 10 jobs in the community, which is a very, very big deal,” says Srimani.

The agreement will also help fund the construction of three new buildings: headquarters for the guardians, an Elders’ lodge, and a new Parks Canada office.

Srimani says his main goal, along with Chief Steve Vital, is infrastructure projects and job creation.

“These elements definitely satisfy our main agenda,” he added.

Soham Srimani is the Nahʔą Dehé Dene Band manager. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB)

As part of the announcement, Chief Vital issued a statement, “Nahanni National Park Reserve is and always will be the traditional territory of the Nahʔą Dehé Dene Band… Signing this agreement provides our community with the resources to honour this responsibility to our elders and ancestors, and gives our youth opportunities to learn and prosper as they do it.”

Details on the role of the guardians in managing the park should be finalized by the end of the month, with the construction of headquarters beginning soon afterwards.

The other two buildings are expected to be completed in 2025.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.