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Dehcho Unimpressed by Feds; WWF, CBI Quite So

If you see a contradiction between these articles, you are one with good observation skills.


Natives doubt federal will to expand northern wilderness preserve
Mike De Souza, CanWest News Service // Tuesday, August 07, 2007

OTTAWA — Aboriginal leaders are skeptical about a federal government promise to expand the portions of the Northwest Territories that are protected from new mining, oil and gas development.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister John Baird are scheduled to make an announcement in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., Wednesday morning, before touring Virginia Falls in the Nahanni National Park Reserve. But while some conservation groups have travelled to Fort Simpson expecting to hear good news about an expansion of protected areas, the Dehcho First Nations say they remain in negotiations with the federal government and only expect the announcement to be a first step in a long process.

“We’re not going to be standing beside the minister and shaking his hand and saying we agree 100 per cent and give a group hug,” said Roy Inglangasuk, executive director of the Dehcho First Nations.

In January, conservation groups revealed that Baird told them in a private meeting that his government was committed to expanding the national park, designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. Environmentalists have been calling on the government to broaden the 5,000 square kilometres of protected area by as much as 30,000 square kilometres.

But the Dehcho, who have been in negotiations for years, are not expecting the announcement to herald any significant progress.

“It’s part of the process that’s been going on, and this is one small step of what we’ve been negotiating with Canada for a while,” said Inglangasuk.

Stephen Hazell, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said the federal government should concentrate on negotiations with the aboriginal people if it’s serious about expanding the park.

“The only way the park expansion is going to work is if the federal government and the Dehcho come to some agreement,” said Hazell in an interview at his Ottawa office. “Most of the other (land) claims throughout the Northwest Territories are all settled. The Dehcho have not settled. They’ve never signed anything, so it’s fairly difficult for the federal government to go on expanding the park without the Dehcho agreeing.”

Harper is beginning a trip that will take him into the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, where he is expected to address issues of Canadian sovereignty and development in the North. The trip was being planned several weeks ago, even before a Russian expedition successfully dropped a Russian flag on the North Pole seabed last week.

© CanWest News Service


Canadian Boreal Initiative applauds federal Government for advancing expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve
[press release]

FORT SIMPSON, NWT, Aug. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Boreal Initiative
(CBI) congratulates the Government of Canada on today's announcement for
dedicating an additional 5,400 square kilometers towards the Nahanni National
Park Reserve and securing further protection for the South Nahanni watershed.
We commend the Prime Minister, Minister Baird, the Dehcho First Nations and
the Government of the Northwest Territories for their decisive action.
"This is a major step towards expanding the Nahanni National Park Reserve
- a Canadian icon, world renowned national park and World Heritage Site in the
Northwest Territories' Boreal Forest", said Larry Innes, CBI's Executive
Director. "This is a welcome follow up to the federal Budget investment in the
protected areas in the North and we look forward to celebrating other sites in
the coming months. "
This announcement follows on the commitment made by Canada in January
2007 to permanently protect the entire South Nahanni Watershed and Nahanni
karstlands in an expanded national park.
"Securing protection for special places like the Nahanni is part of what
Canadians want our governments to achieve", continued Innes. "Today's
announcement reinforces the importance that all parties place on balancing
conservation with economic development to protect and strengthen the North,
and we are proud to be actively supporting those goals."
The work between governments, First Nations, conservation organizations,
and stakeholders to secure protection for a suite of important ecological and
cultural areas identified in the Northwest Territories Protected Areas
Strategy, national park proposals and regional land use plans is ongoing.
Protection is actively being sought for Ramparts River and wetlands (Ts'ude
niline Tu'eyeta) near Fort Good Hope, the Thaydene Nene/East Arm region of the
Great Slave Lake near Lutsel'ke, and for additional areas identified in the
draft Dehcho and Sahtu land use plans.

Based in Ottawa, the Canadian Boreal Initiative is a convener bringing
together partners including governments, industry, First Nations, conservation
groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists to create new
solutions for the conservation and sustainable development of the Boreal

(press release picked up off the marketwire)

WWF-Canada Supports Conservation Progress in the Mackenzie River Basin

FORT SIMPSON, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES--(Marketwire - Aug. 8, 2007) - WWF-Canada strongly supported today's announcement by Prime Minister Harper, federal Minister of the Environment John Baird, and Dehcho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, to withdraw additional land from industrial development for the expansion of Nahanni National Park, NWT.

"This marks significant progress on the larger need to respect community wishes to sequence conservation first, in advance of industrial development," said Rob Powell, Director of WWF-Canada's Mackenzie River Basin program.

Dr. Powell was referring to approximately 20 areas that First Nation communities have proposed for protection in the Mackenzie River Basin, before proposals such as the Mackenzie Gas Project proceed.

Almost exactly one year ago WWF-Canada, together with other conservation groups and northern First Nations, brought forward to the Harper government six important areas for conservation, as the first instalment of a suite of sites awaiting protection. With today's announcement, progress has been made on four of the six sites: one in the Sahtu region, namely Sahyoue/Ehdacho (Grizzly Bear Mountain/Scented Grass Hills in Great Bear Lake) which Parks Canada has agreed to fund and finalize as National and Historic Sites; and three in the Dehcho region, namely Sambaa K'e (Trout Lake), which the Canadian Wildlife Service has agreed to sponsor as a National Wildlife Area; Edehzhie (Horn Plateau) for which interim surface and subsurface protection was extended in June 2007; and today, the announcement of next steps for the expansion of Nahanni.

"As a long time northerner, and as someone who helped support these community initiatives in the early days almost a decade ago, I'm pleased to see the federal government beginning to respond to First Nations' concern for conservation," said Bill Carpenter, NWT Senior Advisor to WWF-Canada. "This whole idea of sequencing conservation first as a reasonable condition for new industrial activity in the north is entirely consistent with First Nations traditions. If the purpose of the Prime Minister's trip is to strengthen and protect our north, announcements such as this are certainly a good way to do it."

"We are looking forward to hearing soon from Ministers Baird or Prentice regarding progress on the remaining two priority sites we and First Nations put forward to the government for protection," said Dr, Powell. "This includes the Ramparts, along and west of the Mackenzie River near Fort Good Hope in the Sahtu region, and the requested Akaitcho land withdrawal around Great Slave Lake, including the proposed East Arm National Park advocated by the community of Lutsel K'e."

For over 15 years, WWF-Canada has strongly supported northern interest in balancing new economic projects with timely conservation accomplishments, such as reserving large protected areas early in the development process. This has involved playing a leadership role in obtaining the NWT Protected Areas Strategy; an investment of more than $10 million by WWF-Canada in co-operation with other conservation groups, First Nations, governments and industry; establishing an office in Yellowknife; hiring northerners; working directly in small remote communities; and voicing community concerns with decision makers in Yellowknife, Calgary and Ottawa.

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