Our Work

Northwest Territories


Northern Canada, bisected by the Arctic Circle


1.3 million square kilometers


A sparsely populated region of sub-arctic forests and tundra, the Northwest Territories define remoteness. Few places on Earth have fewer people and more wild, uncharted territory.

Home to more than thirty Aboriginal communities that have lived here for thousands of years, the Northwest Territories is exploring ways to sustainably manage increasing demands for energy and minerals harvested from its remote lands and waters.


Increasing demand for natural resources such as diamonds and uranium is driving new development while modern technologies have improved the ability to mine them from remote locations.

Our Approach

TNC Canada blends cutting-edge conservation science, mapping and planning with Indigenous knowledge passed down through generations in the Northwest Territories.

We find collaborative ways to protect nature, while respecting local communities, and the realities of development.

Our Initiatives
  • The community of Lustel K’e has been working to establish a protected area in their homeland for more than 40 years. TNC Canada supports this effort to recognize the Thaidene Nene “Land of the Ancestors” protected area. These negotiations represent a new model for park management and Indigenous-led conservation in Canada.Recently, governments and the Lutsel K'e Dene came to an agreement on proposed boundaries for the protected area. To secure the area’s permanent protection, the Lutsel K’e First Nation is partnering with TNC Canada and others to finalize the national park reserve by spring of 2016.
  • Through the SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) program, Lutsel K’e youth are gaining the knowledge and experience they need to sustainably manage the "Land of the Ancestors." Every summer, young interns document and monitor area wildlife, explore and participate in the maintenance of cultural sites within the proposed park boundaries, and share cultural knowledge by providing interpretive tours for tourists. We also lend conservation expertise and capacity to enrich Ni hat’ni offerings with additional opportunities for local youth to explore the ties between their culture and the environment. These young leaders are the park’s future managers, rangers and tour guides.
  • The Lutsel K’e First Nation is establishing a $30 million trust fund for the community’s investments in park management, operations, staff training and tourism.TNC Canada is supporting fundraising efforts toward this goal.

The Northwest Territories provide critical habitat for moose, wolverine, a wide variety of birds and fish, and some of the last free-ranging herds of barren-ground caribou.


Protecting the Northwest Territories means preserving the environmental and cultural integrity of a homeland fundamental to people’s well being and cultural identity.

The Northwest Territory’s Aboriginal groups are poised to promote their culture, maintain a sustainable relationship with the land, and establish formal protection for traditional territories.