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Saoyú (saw-you) and ʔehdacho (eh-dah-cho) are two major peninsulas on the west side of Great Bear Lake, totaling 5,550 km2. These peninsulas form the Saoyú-ʔehdacho National Historic Site.
Saoyú and Ɂehdacho are teaching, healing and spiritual places, essential to the cultural well-being of the Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę, or the “people of Sahtú.” The elders of Délįnę say that the protection of Saoyú and Ɂehdacho is a responsibility given to the Sahtúgot’įnę by their ancestors.
The site is permanently protected and cooperatively managed by the Délįnę Land Corporation and the Délįnę Renewable Resources Council, together with Parks Canada.
- Saoyú-ʔehdacho is deeply linked to the history of the Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę, the Dene of Great Bear Lake. For the Sahtúgot‘ı̨nę, this region’s oral traditions and stories are tied to the land and help define who they are as a people. In recognition of the
historical and cultural importance of these areas, Parks Canada designated these peninsulas as a National Historic Site in 1999.
- Saoyú-ʔehdacho has intact boreal forest and is home to important wildlife species, including woodland caribou, grizzly bears, wolverine and peregrine falcons.
- The site features trails, portages, gravesites and campsites that are landmarks of how the land has been used for generations as people traveled from one place to another.
- 1999 - The 1999 National Historic Site designation of Saoyú-ʔehdacho is an important step in recognizing the importance of the peninsulas, but does not provide protection for land. The community of Délįne follows the direction of its elders to seek permanent protection for the area.
- 2002 - An interim land withdrawal protects Saoyú-ʔehdacho while assessments of the area’s values are conducted.
- 2007 - The Saoyú-ʔehdacho Working Group completes its final report, which summarizes the results of the cultural, ecological and economic assessments and consultations.
- 2009 - The Minister Responsible for Parks Canada travels to Délįne to attend community celebrations and formally announce the signing of the Saoyúʔehdacho National Historic Site Cooperative Management Agreement. The interim land withdrawal is replaced by an indeterminate land withdrawal.
- 2011 - Saoyú-ʔehdacho is formally protected through the National Historic Sites Order, with three agencies involved in protecting the area: the Deline Land Corporation for 20% of the surface, Parks Canada for the remaining 80% of the surface, and the GNWT for the sub-surface. The area is permanently protected.
- The site has been established as a National Historic Site with surface and subsurface protection.