The Dehcho First Nations have a rigorous conservation agenda – their assembly has approved and are urging the Northwest Territory and Federal Government of Canada to expand the Nahanni Park from its current 3,700 sq km to 42,000 sq km. The resolution by the Dehcho First Nations is heartily supported by Parks Canada, and would protect all but 5% of the watershed from any type of development. The forward thinking Dehcho, unfortunately, have been met by some opposition at the territorial and federal levels. It appears there are more parties, voices and red-tape than needed, and the government is supporting a lesser expansion, in favor of the potential for oil, gas and mineral exploration and development. But, in the end, shouldn’t the decision to protect the land be in the hands of those who live and have lived on the land for centuries (seven generations)? The Dehcho have done intensive assessments to determine the potential for resource development, and have decided, “the cultural and wildlife values are in comparable with the potential for resource development.” The Native stewards know and respect the land in such a deep and honoring way – I wonder when the governments, developers and outsiders will open their ears to the knowledge and vision of indigenous groups such as the Dehcho?
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