As Banff National Park was the worlds second oldest National Park , Canada has a long history of protecting and caring for its lands. It took nearly 50 years of planning and consultation but Canada’s newest national park reserve has now officially been established in the Northwest Territories.
In August of 2019 , representatives from Parks Canada, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, the Deninu K’ue First Nation, Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the territorial government met in Lutsel K’e to formally sign an agreement establishing Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve (www.landoftheancestors.ca). The Northwest Territory Metis Nation which also has ties to the region held a similar signing event in Fort Resolution.
Thaidene Nene is Canada’s 48th National Park or Park Reserve and the first to be established since 2015. IT was first proposed back in the 1970’s but was met with resistance. In the 1990’s the area began to attract interest from mining companies, and in 2000, Felix Lockhart, the former Lutsel K’e chief approached Parks Canada to reopen discussions about the park.
Thaidene Nene will be co–managed by the federal and territorial governments and the local First Nations, with the Ni Hat’ni Dene Rangers serving as guardians during the summer months – interacting with visitors, monitoring the environmental well being of the park, and passing on traditional knowledge to the youth. To that end, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation has set up a $30 million trust fund to support its responsibilities in the park and the federal government has said it plans to invest $40 million in the park in its first 12 years.
The park protects 26, 525 sq. Km of land northeast of the territorial capital of Yellowknife. The name translates to Land of the Ancestors in the Denesuline or Chipewan lanauge. The Lutsel K’e Dene consider Thaidene Nene to be a sacred place where the foundations were laid for their way of life.
Thaidene Nene encompasses part of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, including part of Christie Bay, part of the Lockhart River, most of Snowdrift River, and dozens of lakes, waterfalls, islands and dramatic glacier carved cliffs. Both Boreal forest and tundra eco systems are found in the park, supporting an array of iconic wildlife including barren-ground caribou, muskox, moose, wolves, black and grizzly bears, red Arctic Foxes, lynx, wolverines, beavers and many smaller mammals and birds.
Fort Reliance, a national and territorial historic site is located in the park at the mouth of the Lockhart River. First built by the Hudson Bay Company in 1833, the fort served as a base of operations for the search for Sir John Franklins missing 1845 expedition
Can you visit Thaidene Nene?
- Yes! There are however no roads to the park , and it can only be accessed by air or water from the gateway community of Lutsel K’e, which is a 45 minute flight from Yellowknife. Once there, a number of local guides can take you to see some of the area’s most spectacular natural features. The Lutsel K’e Dene are keen to welcome visitors to the Land of the Ancestors in the hopes of developing a sustainable tourism economy in the community however the park remains one to watch for now for accessible tourism packages.