The Government of Canada has taken a major step to protect and conserve Canada’s north by announcing the withdrawal of over 10 million hectares of land, one of the largest land conservation initiatives in Canadian history near the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, and around the Ramparts River and Wetlands, both in the Northwest Territories.

“Conservation is a top priority for our government. In January, I made a number of commitments and we are delivering,” said the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment. “Our Government believes that our actions speak louder than words. We are doing even more by withdrawing massive areas from industrial development to protect some of the most impressive ecological and cultural wonders in the North for generations to come.”

The interim land withdrawals announced today by Minister Baird are a major step forward towards creating a national park in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and a national wildlife area for the Ramparts River and Wetlands (Ts’ude niline Tu’eyeta).

“Our government is fully committed to the North and we will continue to work with the three territories in order to improve opportunities and help meet the needs of northerners,” said Minister Strahl. “Canada’s negotiation team has worked with the Akaitcho and the Government of the Northwest Territories to reach this important milestone in the Akaitcho process. “

The anouncement was made during a celebration with Chiefs of the Akaitcho Dene First Nations, the Chief of Fort Good Hope (K’asho Got’ine) and representatives of the Northwest Territory Mtis Nation.

“All total, the announcement by the federal government amounts to the largest land withdrawal for interim protection in Canadian history,”

said Lorne Johnson, Ottawa Bureau Director, WWF-Canada. “This is a great example of sequencing conservation first, up front in the development process, while we still have a chance to protect the North’s lands and waters.”

In the last year alone, the Government of Canada has committed to:

  • a massive expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve;
  • creation of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area;
  • $30 million to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia;
  • $3 million to the restoration of Stanley Park in Vancouver and Point Pleasant Park in Halifax;
  • $225 million for the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve and conserve up to half a million acres of land across the country;
  • $5 million to protect the Sahoy ehdacho National Historic Site on the shores of Great Bear Lake, the largest lake in Canada.

The Government will be also providing $3 million for a study to assess the feasibility of establishing a national park in the vicinity of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and $830,000 over five years to establish the Ramparts River and Wetlands National Wildlife Area.

Shannon Haszard, NWT Regional Manager for Ducks Unlimited Canada, stated “We’d like to especially congratulate the Fort Good Hope Dene and Mtis and the Akaitcho First Nations for taking the initiative to protect these areas. It is great to see the communities achieve their wish to protect important sacred places and lands that countless generations have used for hunting, trapping, fishing and spiritual renewal.”

For more information go to:Environment Canada