The Deninu Kue First Nation and the Fort Resolution Métis Government are proposing a new Indigenous protected area covering portions of the Slave River delta and Taltson watershed.
In a news release, the governments said they had signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this month to cooperate on the creation of an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.
The governments envisage creating management plans to ensure the conservation of biodiversity in the area, alongside work to mitigate the impacts of climate change and take control of Indigenous traditional territories.
Nobody involved in the project could be reached for interview. In a statement, Chief Louis Balsillie of the Deninu Kue First Nation said its members “look forward to working with the Fort Resolution Métis Government” in continuing their traditional ways of life.
“[Our] presence, connection to, and traditional practices on the land are sacred,” Chief Balsillie wrote.
“We uphold our spiritual obligations since time immemorial by sustaining our sovereign responsibility to protect waters and lands in the Slave/Taltson area.”
The Slave River delta and Taltson watershed are considered essential to Indigenous communities in Fort Resolution.
“Its waters are like veins of the land, providing cold, pure water for the territory, and is the life force of our sacred ecosystems,” said Arthur Beck, President of the Fort Resolution Métis Council.
“In a time of climate change; uncertainty, increasing water infrequence, and threats from industry and development upstream, we need to work together and protect our life blood.”
In the coming weeks, the governments will form a committee to determine the objectives and boundaries for the proposed conserved area.
There are already multiple Indigenous protected areas in the NWT.
Edéhzhíe, in the Dehcho, is a protected area consisting of 14,200 square kilometres of wetland and boreal forest. Around 9,000 square kilometres of Thaidene Nëné is a protected area, the remainder being a National Park Reserve and wildlife conservation area. And Ts’udé Nilįné Tuyeta, west of Fort Good Hope, protects around 10,000 square kilometres of land including the Ramparts River wetland.