Thaidene Nëné A 6.5-million-acre protected area in the NWT © Pat Kane


Nature United Celebrates the Signing of the Thaidene Nëné Establishment Agreements and Commits to Supporting Indigenous Co-Governance

Thaidene Nëné Fund ensures Indigenous-led conservation and sustainable livelihoods are the foundation for protecting a globally significant ecosystem

Łutsël K’é, NWT

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On August 21, 2019, Nature United is celebrating with the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation as the Establishment Agreements are signed with Parks Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories for Thaidene Nëné, a 6.5-million-acre protected area at the transition between boreal forest and tundra.

Chief Darryl Marlowe of Łutsël K’é will be joined by The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Robert C. McLeod, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, of the Government of the Northwest Territories, as well as partners and Łutsël K’é members, for the signing ceremony and community celebration. The Establishment Agreements are critically important to creating Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve, Territorial Protected Area and Wildlife Conservation Area.

Thaidene Nëné will be protected under Denesǫłine, federal and territorial law. All three governments will work together to manage the protected areas, ensuring that Indigenous knowledge and culture are the foundation of protecting the globally significant ecosystem that provides habitat for grizzly bears, wolves, moose and muskox, and the critical winter ground for the last herds of barren ground caribou.

Nature United confirms our support of the anticipated $30-million Thaidene Nëné Fund, also supported by the federal government, to help fund a precedent-setting approach to Indigenous co-governance, following final legal protected area establishment.

The Thaidene Nëné Fund will ensure that Indigenous-led conservation and sustainable livelihoods are integral to the protected areas, including the Ni Hat’Ni Dene Guardian Program, which monitors ecological values, maintains cultural sites, communicates with tourists, transmits knowledge to younger generations, and more.

Nature United, together with our global affiliate, has been a long-time partner in advancing the Łutsël K’é vision for their traditional territories. Our decade-long partnership has included providing technical, financial and strategic support when needed by our partner, from mapping of ecological and cultural values for Elder and leadership decision-making on protected-area boundaries to supporting rigorous protected area legislation in NWT. Our organization has supported Ni Hat’Ni Dene Guardian Program since 2011, in particular youth involvement, as well as local economic development led by the Nation.

Nature United works with other communities in the Northwest Territories to advance conservation planning that incorporates cultural values. In the Northwest Territories and in other priority areas in Canada, Nature United supports a healthy, diversified economy that integrates conservation and reflects the values of the people who live there.


Chief Darryl Marlowe, Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation: “The protection and stewardship of Thaidene Nëné is the sacred responsibility of the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation, as passed down to us through the generations from our Elders. Achieving the protection of Thaidene Nëné for the Łutsël K’é Denesǫłine is a decades-long dream, and is a critical step towards ensuring our way of life can be maintained and shared with all Canadians.”

Hadley Archer, Executive Director, Nature United: “Conservation is not just land protection—it is the protection of living culture, local livelihoods and a future for generations to come. Thaidene Nëné reflects the commitment and cooperation of three governments to reimagine conservation for people and nature. And the Thaidene Nëné Fund provides the foundation for true Indigenous co-governance. Thaidene Nëné sets a new standard for conservation, not just in Canada but for conservation around the world.  

Nature United was founded as a Canadian charity in 2014, building on decades of conservation in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, our organization has field staff located across the country. Nature United supports Indigenous leadership, sustainable economic development and science and large-scale conservation, primarily in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba. Our organization is also working to accelerate Natural Climate Solutions at national and regional scales. To learn more, visit or follow @natureunited_ca.

We are the Canadian affiliate of The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization with more than a million members and a diverse team that includes more than 400 scientists. Our global organization works in 79 countries — either directly or through partnerships — to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press.