The Government of Canada supports Dene Nation initiative to help conserve boreal caribou

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YELLOWKNIFE, NT, July 15, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to partnering with Indigenous peoples to protect ecosystems, species, and cultures for a healthier environment. Indigenous Knowledge is a valuable source of environmental information that plays an instrumental role in shaping scientific activities and policies.

Logo: Government of Canada (CNW Group/Environment and Climate Change Canada)

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, today announced that the Government of Canada will invest $1,080,000 over two years in the Western Boreal Initiative with the Dene Nation. The Western Boreal Initiative is a collaboration between provinces, territories, and First Nations governments to evaluate the cumulative effects of wildfire, predation, key pests, human disturbances, and climate change on the Western Boreal Forests of Canada.

This initiative will further Dene Nation work with leaders, Elders, youth, other land users, and knowledge holders to braid Dene Traditional Knowledge together with Western science on the ecology and conservation of boreal caribou across the Northwest Territories. This work will inform models of landscape change, as well as ongoing and future boreal caribou range planning in the Northwest Territories. 

Denendeh (traditional Dene lands) covers approximately 12 percent of the land mass in Canada and 25 percent of the Western Boreal Forest. The Dene have vast knowledge of the species within the Western Boreal Forest. The Dene Nation views the protection of boreal caribou and its habitat as a first step in braiding Dene Knowledge with Western science for the protection of all threatened species in the Western Boreal Forest.

Today’s investment demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to strengthening its relationships with Indigenous Peoples and working towards reconciliation.


“Boreal caribou are emblematic of the climate and biodiversity challenges we have in Canada, and Indigenous leadership on conservation, coupled with our provincial and territorial partners, is critical to recover the species. Combining Traditional Indigenous Knowledge and Western science in caribou conservation planning strengthens our understanding of the species, and of the important relationship that the Dene Nation has had with caribou since time immemorial.”

– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“We, the Dene, have thousands of years of knowledge and experience of living with caribou, Boreal, Mountain, and Barren-ground. Our caribou knowledge has been passed down through the generations by our Elders and harvesters and this interaction with Todzi (boreal caribou) is a significant part of our culture. I am pleased that the Government of Canada has recognized and prioritized the importance of collaborating with the Dene Nation, our leaders, Elders, and youth. Through this initiative, Dene knowledge will be recognized in research and conservation planning initiatives being undertaken by the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada. Our Elders and youth will help form a critical part of the research and conservation of Todzi and the protection of its critical habitat.”

Norman Yakeleya, Dene National Chief / AFN Regional Chief

“As we all work towards the shared objective of maintaining a healthy population of boreal caribou for present and future generations, Canada’s support for Indigenous organizations, like the Dene Nation, on Indigenous knowledge projects is welcome. These projects will provide valuable insights, which we will in turn use to inform range planning for boreal caribou across the Northwest Territories.”

– The Honourable Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • Funding for this important component of the Western Boreal Initiative is provided through the Indigenous Partnership Initiative under Canada’s Nature Fund.
  • The Government of Canada, through Budget 2021, is investing an additional $2.3 billion over five years in Canada’s Enhanced Nature Legacy to continue supporting nature conservation measures including Indigenous leadership in conservation.
  • Conserving and restoring nature is vital to combat climate change; protect biodiversity and species at risk; and rebuild a strong, sustainable economy.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to protecting 25 percent of lands and 25 percent of waters in the country by 2025 and 30 percent of each by 2030.

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Logo: Dene Nation (CNW Group/Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Logo: The Assembly of First Nations (CNW Group/Environment and Climate Change Canada)

SOURCE Environment and Climate Change Canada

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