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What is Edéhzhíe?

The Edéhzhíe (eh-day-shae) Candidate Protected Area of 14,200 km² is located in the Dehcho region of the Northwest Territories.

Edéhzhíe has great ecological and cultural significance to the communities of Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Behchokǫ̀, Jean Marie River, Whatì and Wrigley.

The Horn Plateau, a prominent landform in Edéhzhíe, contains the source waters of the Willowlake, Horn and Rabbitskin Rivers. Traditional knowledge identifies the Horn Plateau as a place that could be relied upon during times of food scarcity in the Mackenzie Valley. Mills Lake and the lower Horn River areas are important harvesting areas for surrounding communities.

A Land Withdrawal Order exists granting an indeterminate land withdrawal of subsurface rights.

Cooperative management of the protected area will ensure all people have the opportunity to respect and enjoy this unique area for generations.

Why is it important?

  • The Horn Plateau is a unique ecosystem. The headwater lakes and muskeg on the Plateau feed the Rabbitskin, Willowlake and Horn Rivers and Mills Lake, all of which are important fish and wildlife habitat, and sources of clean water.
  • The richness and diversity of Edéhzhíe have made this area a central cultural and spiritual gathering place for the Dehcho and Tłįchǫ peoples that figures prominently in Dene legends.
  • Edéhzhíe hosts numerous cultural sites, trails and harvesting areas, and has traditionally been used for hunting, fishing, trapping and other activities. Mills Lake is a key northern wetland on the Central and Mississippi continental flyways for migratory birds.


  • November 2009 - The Edéhzhíe Working Group finalizes the Recommendations Report after a public review process. The report is submitted to the Dehcho First Nations, Tłįchǫ Government, territorial and federal governments and other working group organizations.
  • June 2010 - Dehcho First Nations and Tłįchǫ Government request the establishment of Edéhzhíe as a National Wildlife Area under the Canada Wildlife Act.
  • 2016 - Dehcho First Nations and Government of Canada begin work on an agreement to finalize establishment of Edéhzhíe.
  • July 2018 - Dehcho First Nations pass a resolution to enact a Dehcho Protected Area Law to establish Edéhzhíe as an Indigenous Protected Area and a National Wildlife Area (NWA) under the Canada Wildlife Act.
  • October 2018 - Dehcho First Nations and Environment and Climate Change Canada sign an establishment agreement for the Edéhzhíe Protected Area.

Next steps

  • The Dehcho First Nations, Tłįchǫ Government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, Government of Canada and other partners are working towards establishing a National Wildlife Area, which will provide long-term protection for this culturally and ecologically important area. It is anticipated Edéhzhíe will be designated as a National Wildlife Area in 2020.

Map of the consultation boundary


Fact sheet