A sacred area for both the Dehcho First Nations and Tlicho is now protected. Dene and Metis leaders from across the Northwest Territories gathered in Fort Providence this week to celebrate the historic day with the Deh Gah Gotie First Nation and Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.
Edehzhie as it is called by the Dehcho First Nations, is also known as the Horn Plateau that rises out of the Mackenzie Valley to the west of Great Slave Lake, covers 25,000 square kilometers between the Monfwi boundary and Dehcho region.
Congratulations to Dehcho First Nations and partners for designating the Edéhzhíe Protected Area/National Wildlife Area that will conserve 14,249 square kilometres of boreal forest—an area more than twice the size of Banff National Park. https://t.co/Xb75U1JMT8 #NWT pic.twitter.com/zfNHM5pCjO
— National Boreal Program (@DUCBoreal) October 12, 2018
Dehcho Elder Jonas Antoine with Minister McKenna.
Photo Courtesy of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.
It’s been a long fight for elders like Jonas Antoine pictured above with Minister McKenna.
“A protected area is an example of how the Dehcho would like to move forward with Canada,” Grand Chief GladysNorwegian said on Thursday.
Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie praised the Dehcho leadership for their long battle to protect this sacred area, known as the breadbasket amongst Dene.
“The creation of Edehzhie is an example of how we can work together as Indigenous governments to bring together our values and culture,” Mackenzie said.
In Fort Providence, @MMcLeodNWT and I spoke about the Edéhzhíe Protected Area announcement happening today and how important this designation is for our youth and elders. Thank you for all your hard work! pic.twitter.com/uhkH67Nx6u
— Catherine McKenna 🇨🇦 (@cathmckenna) October 11, 2018
Seven years ago, former Dehcho Grand Chief Sam Gargan said any agreement that doesn’t include the protection of what’s below the ground is “a mockery.”
The Dehcho supported by the Tlicho took the Conservative government to court over subsurface rights and won.
In the 2012 decision, a judge said the government’s decision to terminate subsurface protection without consulting the Dehcho was “clearly questionable.”