Thaidene Nene

Thaidene Nene (the Land of the Ancestors) is a proposed protected area around and beyond the shores of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. It is a beautiful cultural landscape with rich wildlife populations and unique geography, and has been part of the homeland and a sacred place of the Lutsel K’e Denesuline for thousands of years.


On July 29th 2015, the federal government took the next major step towards completing Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve by announcing proposed boundaries that will be put to the public for consultation.  Just two weeks previous, the Government of the Northwest Territories launched a consultation on the adjacent territorially-protected portions of Thaidene Nene. Once they become law, the  proposed national park reserve and surrounding territorial park will protect the majority of this magnificent area.

Visit the Land of the Ancestors for more background.

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Thaidene Nene spans the transition zone between boreal forest and tundra, and is filled with clean-flowing rivers and spectacular waterfalls. It includes the East Arm of Great Slave Lake with its remarkable cliffs and islands, and the deepest freshwater in North America. Healthy wildlife populations thrive in Thaidene Nene, where there are still no roads and little impact from industrial development. Huge herds of migrating barren-ground caribou roam Thaidene Nene, as well as moose, muskoxen, wolves, fox, beaver, bear, muskrat, wolverine, martin, mink, otter, and many species of birds and fish. Many of these species have supported important subsistence harvesting over thousands of years, with caribou being especially important.

Thaidene Nene is the place where the ancestors of the Lutsel K’e Denesuline laid down the sacred, ethical, and practical foundations of their way of life. Carrying these traditions forward, the Lutsel K’e Denesuline take very seriously their right and responsibility to practice their relationship with the land, promote their culture, and protect the area upon which this culture and relationship depend. Establishing Thaidene Nene will also create much-needed employment in Lutsel K'e, through development of a tourism economy in the community, and management and operations of Thaidene Nene itself. These employment opportunities will be sustainable and culturally meaningful, as they will be rooted in traditional livelihoods and cultural sharing.

Major milestones were reached in the summer of 2015, with both the territorial and federal governments unveiling proposed boundaries for Thaidene Nene in cooperation with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) and other Aboriginal governments, and launching public consultation programs. Negotiations continue, but significant progress has been made along the road to establishing Thaidene Nene as a new and highly innovative park.

Learn more about Thaidene Nene at

Photo by Antje Rilk

The threat

Thaidene Nene is at the core of a region that experienced the largest mineral staking rush in the history of North America. Mostly driven by diamond exploration, approximately 70 million acres were staked for claims in the NWT and Nunavut in 2004, the peak of the rush.

Exploration for diamonds, rare earth elements, base metals, and uranium continue today all around Thaidene Nene. There are three operational diamond mines nearby, and a proposal for a major hydropower corridor through its core.

Much work has been done toward establishing Thaidene Nene over the past decade. It is currently protected by federal and territorial interim land withdrawals (legislative orders) that prevent industrial activity until renewed, or until permanent protection is established.

Photo by Erica Janes

What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS has been working with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation since 2010 to build the public support necessary to permanently protect Thaidene Nene through a partnership between the LKDFN and Parks Canada. Our outreach activities have engaged thousands in the NWT and southern Canada, and will continue until this incredible opportunity is realized.

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Photo by Steve Ellis

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