Conservation Network Planning

Thaidene Nëné

What is Thaidene Nëné?

The Thaidene Nëné area is a celebrated cultural landscape with rich wildlife populations and unique geography located at the eastern end of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. The Thaidene Nëné study area is approximately 33,690 km2. Thaidene Nëné means ‘Land of the Ancestors’ in the Dënesųłı̨né language.

Establishment is moving forward using an innovative northern approach to planning, conservation and management. The interim land withdrawal for the Thaidene Nëné study area is presently in place until April 1, 2019.

The proposed consultation boundaries for the Thaidene Nëné area include over 12,000 km2 for proposed territorial protected and conservation areas designations and over 14,000 km2 for a federal National Park Reserve designation.

The establishment of Thaidene Nëné will also include the opportunity for maintaining and continuing the traditional ways of life and activities important to all northerners. The development of sustainable, local economic diversification will also be made possible through a variety of ecological, cultural and tourism related opportunities.

Cooperative management of the area will ensure all people have the opportunity to respect and enjoy this unique area for generations. Parks Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Indigenous governments and organizations are actively pursuing this conservation opportunity through collaboration and will co-operatively manage this multi-dimensional and globally-significant landscape.

Thaidene Nëné

Why is it important?

  • The area encompasses a number of key ecological features, including spectacular cliffs and islands, numerous lakes, rivers and waterfalls, peninsulas, diverse landscape formations shaped by ancient ice sheets, the deepest freshwater in North America, and some of the last free-ranging herds of migratory barren-ground caribou.
  • Thaidene Nëné is a culturally rich area that includes the traditional and present-day hunting, fishing, gathering and spiritual areas used by Indigenous peoples.
  • Many local residents and visitors also use the Thaidene Nëné area for a variety of activities, including fishing, boating (motorized and nonmotorized) and sightseeing.
  • The area spans the transition zone from boreal forest to tundra and is important habitat for large and small mammals, fish, as well as providing key waterfowl staging areas and critical nesting for birds of prey. Thaidene Nëné encompasses several Taiga Shield and Tundra Shield ecoregions in the Northwest Territories.


  • 1970s - Parks Canada pursues the establishment of a national park reserve in the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, with an indeterminate land withdrawal of 7,340 km2.
  • 2007 - Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation and Parks Canada agree to reassess the boundaries for the Thaidene Nëné study area. The resulting interim land withdrawal expands the total withdrawal area to 33,690 km2.
  • 2013 - Łutsel K’e Dene First Nation and Parks Canada initial a draft Establishment Agreement.
  • 2014 - Post-devolution, GNWT begins discussions on collaborating to create territorial protected and conservation areas in combination with a national park reserve within the interim land withdrawal boundaries. GNWT initiates Section 35 consultation and begins initial engagement with Parks Canada.
  • 2015 - A first round of stakeholder and public engagement meetings and opportunities for written comment on the proposed Thaidene Nene territorial protected and conservation areas boundaries takes place. Public engagement for written comment are held in Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, Hay River and Yellowknife.
  • 2017 to Present - Discussions focus on the creation of Establishment Agreements and a Land Transfer Agreement.

Next steps

  • Collaborative discussions on the establishment of Thaidene Nëné continue between the GNWT, Parks Canada and Indigenous governments and organizations with direct interests in Thaidene Nëné.
  • The next set of stakeholder and public engagement sessions is being planned for winter 2018.

Map of the consultation boundary

Additional resources