Agreement on Protection for the Subsurface of Edéhzhié has been achieved

News Releases

Yellowknife — June 12, 2020

Agreement on Protection for the Subsurface of Edéhzhié has been Achieved.

Premier Caroline Cochrane and Dehcho First Nations (DFN) Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian are pleased to announce today that the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is indefinitely extending a subsurface land withdrawal for the Edéhzhíe Protected Area. The extended withdrawal will complement this culturally and ecologically important region’s future designation as a National Wildlife Area.

A multi-stakeholder working group recommended the permanent protection of the ecological and cultural values of Edéhzhíe through National Wildlife Area designation under the Canada Wildlife Act. Completing the designation will honour shared principles and values between DFN and GNWT and support community job creation, climate action, regional decision-making, and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  

Premier Cochrane and Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian are also announcing their highest level of commitment to complete the Dehcho Land Use Plan as soon as possible. The finalized Plan will provide a shared vision to respect land in the region in a manner that guides conservation and supports the economic, social and cultural well-being of residents in the Dehcho. 


“Our government has made a commitment to strengthening relationships with Indigenous governments and finding innovative solutions to outstanding challenges. I am very pleased to see the willingness of the Dehcho First Nations to engage with the GNWT and advance our shared priorities, including the protection of Edéhzhíe and the completion of the Dehcho Land Use Plan. By working together, I am confident that the GNWT and the DFN can build strong, trusting and respectful relationships that will resolve many of the complex challenges we have faced for decades.”

  • Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories

“Edéhzhíe represents a new government to government relationship and hope for the future. Our elders and leaders have always regarded Edéhzhíe as an important landmark. They worked faithfully to achieve permanent protection for many years and today we celebrate this important milestone. It ensures a successful future for Edéhzhíe that will help enable Dene survival and well being into the future. As Dene, we understand the importance of taking care of the land, and our relationship to the land, as being integral to our culture and language. In Dene Zhatié we have a saying, “yundáa gogha” meaning “for the future” and Edéhzhíe brings us renewed hope for future.”

  • Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian, Dehcho First Nations

“Edéhzhíe is a significant cultural and ecological area, and the work to advance the Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area is an important piece of the land management picture for the Dehcho Region. This unique, Indigenous-led protected area is designed to preserve not only the biodiversity of the area, but also the rich cultural traditions of the people who call this land home.  I am very encouraged to see the GNWT and DFN focus on completing a Dehcho Land Use Plan. Having a complete picture for shared land management throughout the Dehcho Region will help communities and residents of the region build a stronger and more diverse regional economy.”

  • Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Minister of Lands

Quick Facts:

  • Completed land use plans that reflect the priorities and values of Indigenous residents and governments, NWT residents and the federal and territorial governments are important tools for guiding shared decision making about the management of land and resources in applicable regions.
  • The GNWT land withdrawal provides indefinite protection for 14,200 square kilometres of subsurface land to complement the designation of an Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area.
  • Designation of Edéhzhíe as a National Wildlife Area would provide new opportunities for Dehcho residents to participate in the conservation economy.
  • Creation of the National Wildlife Area will provide protection for critical boreal caribou habitat.  It would protect 1.1% of the NWT and contribute 0.14% to Canadian Biodiversity Target 1 (to protect 17% of Canada’s land and inland water).  With the establishment of Edéhzhíe the NWT has more than 17% of its land and freshwater protected.   


Media inquiries:

Trista Haugland                                                                     
Cabinet Communications                                                       
Government of the NWT                                                        
Tel: 867-767-9140 ext. 11090                                                            

Dahti Tsetso
Director of Lands & Resources
Dehcho First Nations
Tel: 867-447-3526