Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, NWT, recognized for inspirational effort to determine its future
Vancouver. December 13, 2012: Members of a small, remote NWT First Nation are receiving a prestigious prize tonight for their efforts to create a sustainable and prosperous future that balances conservation of a way of life and the environment with economic growth.
In recognition of their innovative efforts to protect their 35,000 km2 traditional homeland and age-old traditions, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake is one of the first-ever recipients of the new ”Arctic Inspiration Prize” created by the S. and A. Inspiration Foundation. The Lutsel K’e Dene have been charting a course for over a decade towards a sustainable future on their traditional homeland – encompassing the crystal clear waters of Great Slave Lake, thousands of kilometers of Boreal forest, countless lakes and rushing rivers, and transition zone to the tundra known as the barren lands.
“Thaidene Nene translates to land of our ancestors and is the heart of Lutsel K’e Nene. We welcome support in our efforts to protect and preserve the pristine, natural beauty that has sustained our way of life since the beginning of time” said Stephanie Poole, First Nation Councillor, upon accepting the award on behalf of her community.
“As we near the conclusion of decades of work to create a unique jointly managed protection area of 33,000 km2, this award will help us to draw attention to our homeland and our work to conserve it while gaining tourism-based economic benefits for our community,” added Gloria Enzoe, Thaidene Nene Program Manager.
Around 2000, a rush of mineral and energy development exploration began in this area, threatening to fragment the lands and waters upon which the Lutesl K’e Dene depend for food, medicine and spiritual life. The First Nation is negotiating with Parks Canada to establish Thaidene Nene as a new form of national park by 2014 – before a federal moratorium on staking claims ends.
The Lustel K’e Dene are partnering with other organizations to achieve their mission. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is organizing public outreach events in late spring in southern Canada to spread the word about this inspirational human and environmental conservation initiative. The Canadian Boreal Initiative has been supporting this project for the past seven years. The Nature Conservancy (U.S.) is supporting the community’s efforts to establish environmental education programs for Lustel K’e youth and a $30 million trust fund to support the community development of an eco-tourism infrastructure, experiential environmental and cultural education opportunities for youth and the development of park management skills.
Contact: Stephen Ellis – 867-446-4880 or firstname.lastname@example.org