GNWT absence noticed at Edéhzhíe celebration

There was no shortage of federal representation in Fort Providence last week for the historic Edéhzhíe celebration.

It was almost like a political homecoming celebration for NWT MP Michael McLeod. He was able to welcome his colleague, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to his home community and the region he served as MLA between 1999-2011.

Former Dehcho Grand chief Herb Norwegian was also in attendance. He was awarded the Glen Davis conservation for his decades of work on the Dehcho Land Use Plan.

The agreement signed last week by Dehcho Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian and Minister McKenna is the first of it’s kind, but is similar to the Haida Gwaii watchmen program.

But, over the weekend one MLA was vocal about the lack of presence from the territorial government.

Frame Lake MLA and longtime environmentalist Kevin O’Reilly took to Twitter saying it was shame Premier McLeod and the cabinet “boycotted this important event.”

A spokesperson from the GNWT said the Premier and cabinet were only notified two days before the celebration, and that it was too short notice with the Legislative Assembly in session.

Edéhzhíe, covers a territory twice the size of Banff National Park. It is  a blend of boreal forest and wetlands populated with woodland caribou, moose, wolves, fish and other wildlife. It has been a place of cultural and spiritual significance for Dene for time immemorial.

This protected area is the first of it’s kind with the Dehcho being a coalition of Dene and Métis people working with the federal government. It will be managed by a board of directors, a local Indigenous conservation group known as the Dehcho K’ehodi guardians, and the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Dahti Tetso, will oversee the Dehcho K’ehondi Guardians. (Photo: Amos Scott)

“We are proud to be working with the Dehcho First Nations to protect a very special place in Canada,” Minister McKenna said last week, adding “By protecting more of nature, we are ensuring a healthier and more prosperous future for our kids and grandkids.”

It is the first Indigenous protected area to be announced since Ottawa included $1.3-billion dollars for conservation measures in the 2018 federal budget last winter.

About the Author

Josh Campbell
Splash is back as the host of Denendeh Sunrise, CKLB's morning current affairs program. Campbell was mentored by longtime host and Gwich'in entertainer William Greenland. Josh, as he's known professionally by folks across the broadcast industry has worked for CBC North, CKRW the Rush in Yukon, and at CJCD Mix 100. Before moving north for his love of radio and Indigenous culture in 2007, Campbell graduated from Loyalist College's Broadcast Journalism Program in Belleville, Ontario the traditional territory of the Tyendinaga Mohawks. Campbell is proud of his Scottish and Irish ancestry. He was born and raised along the Tobique River the home of the Wolastoqiyik, Tobique Maliseet Nation.

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