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Media Centre

Media Release - 2010

Policy Reversal Opens Protected Wildlife Area to Mining
Move Undermines Agreements with First Nations

Ottawa, November 2 –The Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) calls on the federal government to reconsider a dramatic policy reversal that would open the proposed Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area in the Northwest Territories to mineral exploration.

“This decision undermines agreements reached with the Dehcho people and needs to be immediately reversed,” said Larry Innes, CBI’s executive director.

Officials have confirmed that an interim land withdrawal to enable the creation of the proposed Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area is being renewed by the federal government, but without critical subsurface protection. As a result, the whole area will be open to staking for mining claims.

“This is not in keeping with the vision for the protection of Edéhzhíe that has been advanced by the Dehcho First Nations and supported by Canadians,” said Mr. Innes. “We’re dismayed by this contradictory decision and call on the government to clarify its intentions for this vital area.”

The area has been given subsurface protection throughout most of the 13 years of the planning process to allow the parties to negotiate boundaries without having to deal with the imminent threat of mineral staking. The site is awaiting a final designation as part of the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy (PAS).

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Contact: Larry Innes, Executive Director
Canadian Boreal Initiative
(416) 575-6776 mobile

Additional Information:

Source: NWT Protected Areas Strategy

The proposed Edéhzhíe National Wildlife area is awaiting final designation. The negotiations around boundaries concluded earlier this year and the formal request to protect over 14,250 square kilometers were submitted to government in June 2010. The interim withdrawal expired October 31 before the national wildlife area could be designated officially.

Edéhzhíe, also known as the Horn Plateau, is an undulating plateau rising over 400 m over the surrounding boreal plains and lowlands. West of Great Slave Lake, it is one of the natural jewels in the Mackenzie Valley of the Northwest Territories. An area of cultural and ecological significance for the Dehcho and T?icho peoples, this area figures prominently in Dene legends. Wildlife such as caribou and moose are abundant, it has rich wetlands and is a continental bird flyway.

The NWT Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) is a process where Aboriginal communities propose new protected areas of ecological and cultural significance, with the participation of conservation organizations and industry. It is supported and enabled by both the federal and territorial governments. Since 2006, over 31 million acres in the NWT have been slated for protection through either the PAS or Parks Canada processes.

About the Canadian Boreal Initiative:

The Canadian Boreal Initiative brings together diverse partners to advance real solutions for boreal forest conservation and sustainable management, and acts as a convener for governments, industry, Aboriginal communities, conservation groups, major retailers, financial institutions and scientists. Learn more at www.borealcanada.ca.