Lands Protection

The Lands Protection Section is responsible for managing the 39,000 square kilometres of Tłı̨chǫ-owned  Land, including its surface and sub-surface resources.  To manage this, the department works closely with numerous environmental agencies, government agencies, resource development companies and the Tłı̨chǫ Assembly, thus helping to serve and protect Tłı̨chǫ Lands.

The title of the department includes the words “Lands Protection.” These words were chosen to reflect the priorities of the Tłı̨chǫ Government in managing Tłı̨chǫ Lands. The Tłı̨chǫ Government’s priority is to ensure that Tłı̨chǫ people will never be restricted from their traditional way of life. The department’s name helps others to understand the important values held by the Tłı̨chǫ Government demonstrated through fostering and encouraging traditional activities, being stewards of the land, and protecting the land and resources for present and future generations.

The Lands Protection is the departmental ‘window’ through which the Tłı̨chǫ Government directs all inquiries concerning Tłı̨chǫ Lands, and where issues related to proposed activities and development are reviewed. The department provides recommendations for decisions to the Tłı̨chǫ Government on proposed activity and development. The department is also responsible for land use planning and conducting administrative duties associated with land management. The responsibilities that have been assigned to the Lands Protection Department by the Tłı̨chǫ Government include:

  1. Developing, implementing and maintaining the Tłı̨chǫ Land Use Plan;
  2. Providing land administration services;
  3. Monitoring activities on Tłı̨chǫ Lands;
  4. Providing recommendations regarding the use of Tłı̨chǫ Lands;
  5. Communicating information on land use activities;
  6. Maintaining a GIS library of digital mapping; and
  7. Communicating, as required, with other agencies on matters arising from proposed activities or development.

Land Use Planning is about planning for the future. It does not dictate how the future will unfold, but instead is a tool in planning for the unknown. The Tłı̨chǫ Government has prepared the Tłı̨chǫ Land Use Plan, Tłı̨chǫ Wenek’e, to assist in managing the single block of approximately 39,000 square kilometres of Tłı̨chǫ lands. The Tłı̨chǫ Wenek’e uses maps, policies, and text to manage these lands with the goal of protecting Tłı̨chǫ culture, heritage and way of life. The plan provides a guide for future development by outlining how Tłı̨chǫ lands will be protected and how activities and development on Tłı̨chǫ lands should occur. Tłı̨chǫ Wenek’e is meant to not only protect the land for its inherent worth and ecological integrity, but is equally important in protecting the land so as to experience and learn Tłı̨chǫ history - the stories and legends that are all connected to the land. It also serves to protect the transfer of knowledge to future generations, which requires the retention of the ability to experience the land, to learn place names, and the stories and knowledge associated with them. A unique difference between the Tłı̨chǫ Land Use Plan and other regional land use plans in the NWT is that the lands that are subject to the Tłı̨chǫ Land Use Plan have one owner: the Tłı̨chǫ People. The Tłı̨chǫ Government will use the Tłı̨chǫ Land Use Plan to:

  1. Set out Land Protection Directives (policies) for the protection, management and use of Tłı̨chǫ  Lands;
  2. Identify a process for the review of proposed developments or activities on Tłı̨chǫ Lands;
  3. Provide a basis for decision-making by the Tłı̨chǫ Government regarding the approval or denial of development proposals on Tłı̨chǫ Lands;
  4. Outline the role of outside agencies in contributing to Tłı̨chǫ decision-making on Tłı̨chǫ Lands; and
  5. Adapt to changing needs through regular reviews and public reporting of the Plan.

Some Programs the Lands Protection Department deals with:

  • Kwe Beh Working Group

    • Fortune Minerals Limited
    • Dominion Diamond Corp.
    • De Beers Canada
    • Various other stakeholders
  • Protected Areas Strategy

    • Dinaga Wek’ehodi
    • Yambahti
  • Tłı̨chǫ Aquatic Ecosystems Monitoring Project (TAEMP): started in August 2010 as a collective project between WLWB, TG, and WRRB. Tłı̨chǫ community participants and scientists have been working together, collecting baseline information on fish, fish habitat, and water quality to use as a comparison with any fluctuations that may occur in the future, as well as developing a way of monitoring fish that builds on both traditional Tłı̨chǫ knowledge and western science.

    • 2010 – Marian Lake Fish Camp
    • 2011 – Russell Lake Fish Camp
    • 2012 – Snare Lake Fish Camp
    • 2013 – Gamètì  Fish Camp
    • 2014 – Whatì Fish Camp
  • Marian Watershed Monitoring Program: a community-based Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program (AEMP) in the Marian Watershed with specific consideration of the future impacts of the licensed NICO Project (EA0809-004; W2008L2-0004) and other future developments. The program will monitor fish, water, and sediment prior to operation of the proposed NICO mine and will continue data collection in the future in order to monitor cumulative effects of development, land disturbance, and climate change in the Marian Watershed. Both western and Aboriginal science will be drawn on to obtain a clear picture of baseline conditions in the Marian Watershed and potential changes over time. Results will contribute to characterization of background conditions and the range of natural variability in water chemistry in the Marian River, which is crucial to implementation of the legal requirement for water on Tłı̨chǫ lands to remain substantially unaltered (per Tłı̨chǫ Agreement and EA0809-004 EA Measures). The program attempts to answer two key community-based questions: Is the fish safe to eat and the water safe to drink? The main objective of this program is to answer these questions in a meaningful way and facilitate communication of the answers amongst community members.

The program consists of three main components:

  • Environmental Monitor Training Program
  • Field sample collection

    • Marian Watershed field camp: fish, water, and sediment sampling in one area of the Watershed each year
    • Trails of Our Ancestors: water sampling along the Marian River each summer
  • Result workshop
  • Winter Training Camps: During the winters of 2011 and 2013, Tłı̨chǫ Citizens and Tłı̨chǫ Government Staff were trained in the field to collect caribou samples, which was led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) and Tłı̨chǫ Lands Protection staff. While attending the field training, community members had hands-on training under the supervision of experienced staff who were on hand to answer any questions or comments regarding the sampling. This was an opportunity for Tłı̨chǫ Citizens to engage with ENR staff to expand Tłı̨chǫ knowledge of the studies being done on the caribou herds.
  • Tłı̨chǫ Caribou Monitoring Programs

    • Bathurst Caribou Management Updates
    • Tłı̨chǫ Caribou Monitoring Program – Field Guides for Caribou Sample Collection
  • Environmental Monitoring Training Program: A 3 day training program that rotates within the 4 Tłı̨chǫ Communities. Selected community members are taught to read topographic maps, collect data, utilize GPS units, conduct wildlife observations, and understand field practices. When participants complete the program, they are given an opportunity to participate in the Marian Watershed Programs.

    • 2013 – Behchokǫ̀/Whatì  – 8 Graduates
    • 2014 – Gamètì /Wekweètì – 6 Graduates
  • Tłı̨chǫ GIS (Geographic Information System): Came into existence in 2009 with a newly-appointed GIS technician. Since then, the Tłı̨chǫ GIS library has grown exponentially. It includes:

    • The Traditional Knowledge Database: conceived in 1993 and developed through:

      • Transcribing traditional history regarding Tłı̨chǫ Place Names;
      • Conducting elder-led, on-the-land data Collection ; and
      • Recording the information into a series of digital maps.
    • Designing or preparing graphic representations of GIS data, using GIS hardware or software applications;
    • Analyzing GIS data to identify spatial relationships or display of analyses, using maps and graphs;
    • Maintaining or modifying the existing GIS database; and
    • Ongoing data collection.
  • Traditional Knowledge Studies

    • 2015 - K’ichii Tłı̨chǫ TK Report (Whitebeach Point)
    • 2014 – K’agoo Tilii Dee TK Study for Proposed All Season Road to Whatì
    • 2013 – Courageous Lake Tłı̨chǫ TK Report (Seabridge Project)