Six worn-out barges in Hay River that previously resided on Kátł’odeeche First Nation territory were removed between June 17 and August 21, the territorial government said on Monday.
Higher-than-average water levels on Great Slave Lake this year allowed the retrieval to happen, the territory said, with two tugboats taking around two months to remove the barges.
Barges that cannot be salvaged will be destroyed, while some are expected to be sold or repurposed.
The land will now be accessible for traditional and recreational uses for the First Nation, said the territory.
In a news release, Chief April Martel said she was pleased to see the barges removed so her First Nation can reclaim the land and water.
“The Kátł’odeeche First Nation is proud to reassume control of our lands and resources, including all matters related to our environment,” Martel was quoted as saying.
“As Dene people, it is our inherent right and responsibility to ensure that our environment is sustainable for our future generations.”
A flood in 2008 caused the barges to drift ashore, according to the territorial government.
The barges became the property of the NWT government’s Marine Transportation Services division after former barge operator NTCL went bankrupt.