Learn about the NWT's Conservation Network

Thaidene Nëné

What is Thaidene Nëné?

The Thaidene Nëné (thy-Den-ay nen-ay) 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 initial Thaidene Nëné study area was approximately 33,690 km2. Thaidene Nëné means ‘Land of the Ancestors’ in the Dënesųłı̨né language.

Thaidene Nëné, established in August 2019, includes the NWT's Indigenous and territorial protected area created through regulations under the Protected Areas Act (approximately 9,105 km2), a future wildlife conservation area to be created under the Wildlife Act (approximately 3,120 km2) and National Park Reserve (approximately 14,070 km2).

Thaidene Nëné has various forms of protection that collectively constitute the Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area:

  1. The Territorial Protected Area is protected through the Protected Areas Act (“Territorial Protected Area” on map below)
  2. The proposed Conservation Area has a land withdrawal order under the Northwest Territories Land Act, which has no expiry (“Conservation Area proposed to be designated under the NWT Wildlife Act” on map below)
  3. The National Park Reserve is protected through the Canada National Parks Act (“National Park Reserve” on map below)

Thaidene Nëné protects biodiversity within the Taiga Shield and Tundra Shield ecoregions, and part of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, while contributing to the cultural continuity of the area.

The establishment of Thaidene Nëné includes 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 cooperatively 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 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 non-motorized) 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.

What activities will be allowed in Thaidene Nëné?

Planning to visit Thaidene Nëné? Make sure you understand the rules and have the correct permits and registration.

Most activities currently enjoyed as part of the northern lifestyle prior to the establishment of Thaidene Nëné are allowed to continue within the Indigenous and territorial protected area, including:

  • hunting
  • sport fishing
  • berry picking and gathering other non-timber forest products
  • cutting of firewood for personal use and for use by residents of Łutsël K’e, commercial lodges and tourism operators within Thaidene Nëné
  • artisanal uses of biotic and abiotic resources
  • motorized boating
  • overnight boat mooring
  • cultural learning activities
  • wildlife viewing
  • hiking
  • camping
  • snowmobiling
  • dogsledding
  • snowshoeing
  • shore-lunches
  • building campfires
  • geocaching
  • cross-country skiing
  • canoeing
  • kayaking
  • paddle-boarding
  • sailing
  • diving
  • kite skiing and kite surfing
  • waterskiing
  • transport and use of firearms for authorized purposes
  • aircraft operations
  • commercial transportation for visitors to, from and within Thaidene Nëné


  • 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 - Stakeholder and public engagement meetings and opportunities for written comment on the proposed Thaidene Nëné Indigenous and territorial protected area boundaries takes place. Public engagements 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.
  • 2019 - The GNWT provides a preliminary screening notification for the establishment of Indigenous and territorial protected area. Comments received can be found on the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board Public Registry.
  • 2019 – The GNWT establishes the Indigenous and territorial protected area through regulations under the Protected Areas Act.

Next steps

  • Collaborative discussions on the management of Thaidene Nëné, including the creation of an Operational Management Board and Regional Management Body,continue between the GNWT, Parks Canada and Indigenous governments and organizations with direct interests in Thaidene Nëné.
  • The GNWT will continue to recognize and respect Aboriginal and treaty rights, including requirements of land, resources and self-government agreements within Thaidene Nëné.

Map of the area

You can also download a PDF version of the map by clicking here.

Additional resources