N.W.T. First Nations community gets UN award for work on new national park

By The Canadian Press

A remote community in Canada’s North has been awarded a major United Nations prize for decades of work to help a new national park.

The Equator Prize is given to recognize innovative solutions to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and economic resiliency.

It has been awarded to the Lutsel K’e Dene in the Northwest Territories, the first time in the prize’s 11-year history it has been given in Canada.

The community was recognized for its 50-year fight to preserve Thaidene Nene, a 14,000-square-kilometre national park created last summer on the east arm of Great Slave Lake.

The park, which is co-managed by local Dene, features boreal forest and tundra threaded with lakes, rivers and waterfalls and teeming with wildlife.

Steve Nitah, who helped negotiate the deal, calls the park a model of co-operation between First Nations and Ottawa and a step forward for reconciliation.

He says the deal has created jobs for local people and given northern industry clear rules.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020


The Canadian Press

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