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Photo journal of my visit to the Lut sel K’e community

This week I got to check off a long-standing item on my bucket list – seeing the north of Canada.

When I flew into Yellowknife on Sunday, I was greeted by amazing views of Great Slave Lake, which was just starting to thaw after a winter that everyone in Yellowknife call “long”.

Great Slave Lake

My mission in Yellowknife? To get to know the Boreal Leadership Council. This group of First Nations, businesses, and NGOs get together biannually, seeking ways to work together to promote their main goal: protecting 50% of Canada’s Boreal Forest.

On the first evening, Janet and I took the long route to Aurora Village where dinner was organized. Though we didn’t exactly know where we were going, one thing was for sure, the road there was beautiful. One lake after another stretched before us, though opening the window to take pictures was a little daunting given the size of the mosquitoes waiting to get in.

Visiting Lut sel K’e

The best part of the trip was our visit of Lut sel K’e, a remote community on the east side of Great Slave Lake. There are no roads to the community.

Fish is a big part of the Dene diet. At lunch they made us the most amazing fish stew. The hospitality of the community was amazing.

We met with the Dene First Nations community to learn more about the efforts they have been making to protect their lands.

This group has been working tirelessly with the support of multiple organizations, including CPAWS, to develop a new model of national park with Parks Canada, one where they would be true co-managers. The park, called Thaidene Nene or “Land of the Ancestors”, will be 7.4 million hectares and straddles the boreal and tundra that range to the east of Great Slave Lake.

The view from the plane on the way to Lut sel K’e.  Lake after lake of deep blue and green water as far as the eye can see.

This community is also working to ensure that development on their lands outside the proposed park area is done in the most responsible and sustainable way possible. Working with the companies takes up much of their time, as many new proposals, including for hydro development, as well as diamond and uranium mining, need to be reviewed, and existing mines often require additional inputs.

We took a walk around the village.

Although we were there for meetings, all I really wanted to do was take an hour to soak in the view and fresh air!

As part of our visit, the Dene brought us a camp where they prepare moose hides to be made into clothing and footwear. It looked like a lot of work. I still haven’t seen a live moose, but I feel like I’m getting closer! 

Flying back into Yellowknife, I suddenly had a good view of the mines outside of town.