Thaidene Nene (the Land of the Ancestors) is a proposed protected area of approximately 33,500 km2 around and beyond the shores of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. This area has been the homeland and sacred place of the Lutsel K’e Denesuline for thousands of years, and it is an ecologically-significant cultural landscape with rich wildlife populations and unique geography.
Thaidene Nene is a special place. The heart of the homeland of the Lutsel K'e Denesuline, it spans the transition zone from boreal forest to tundra, and includes many smaller lakes connected by rivers containing rapids and spectacular waterfalls. The East Arm of Great Slave Lake contains remarkable cliffs and islands and some of the deepest freshwater in North America. Healthy wildlife populations include huge herds of migrating barren-ground caribou 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 culturally and economically.
Thaidene Nene contains many beautiful places that have special cultural significance to the Lutsel K’e Denesuline. It is the place where their ancestors 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. Creating 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.
The Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) is now in the final stages of negotiations toward signing an agreement to protect Thaidene Nene in partnership with Parks Canada.
CPAWS has been working with the LKDFN to help promote and build public support for their vision for conserving Thaidene Nene, so that those who have never had the opportunity to visit this extraordinary place will know more about it, and those who do access it can continue to do so without it being impacted by industrial development.
Find out more about Thaidene Nene at www.landoftheancestors.ca.
Thaidene Nene is at the core of a region that experienced the largest mineral staking rush in the history of North America, about a decade ago. 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 an interim land withdrawal (a legislative order formulated by Cabinet and approved by the Governor General). This withdrawal is set to expire in March 2014, and if no permanent protection is in place at that time, this incredible conservation opportunity could be lost.
photo by Julian Morse
CPAWS is working to build the public support necessary to permanently protect Thaidene Nene through a partnership between the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation and Parks Canada.
Click here to sign the petition in support of establishing Thaidene Nene.
Click here to write a letter to government decision-makers telling them you want to see Thaidene Nene established.
Hear about Thaidene Nene in person at public presentations in Ottawa and Calgary this May!
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