Working with Indigenous Peoples to Establish the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park

Northern Alberta’s vast boreal forest is integral to the way of life of the region’s Indigenous Peoples, who have deep ties to the land, and rely on it for subsistence and traditional uses. In the early stages of Teck’s relationship building in the Athabasca region, the Mikisew Cree First Nation and other Indigenous groups emphasized the importance of the region and their desire to create a buffer zone to further protect Wood Buffalo National Park. 

This provided an opportunity for Teck to support the Mikisew Cree First Nation to advocate for their vision of protecting this culturally and ecologically significant land. Starting in 2016, Teck provided capacity, resources, and experience in progressing land conservation initiatives. As a result of this collaborative work, in March 2019 Kitaskino Nuwenëné, which means “our land” in both Cree and Dene, was born. 

The Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Park began as a 166,110 hectare provincial park in northern Alberta and is now nearly double in size following a recent expansion of 143,800 hectares. The park contributes to the largest continuous area of protected boreal forest in the world, preserves critical habitat for at-risk species including bison and woodland caribou and safeguards Indigenous People’s traditional uses of these lands.

Teck, along with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, supported the efforts of the Mikisew Cree First Nation and, in 2018 and 2019 engaged with the Government of Alberta, other Indigenous communities, and other operators in the region to determine the land base for Kitaskino Nuwenëné. Teck, Cenovus Energy and Imperial Oil voluntarily relinquished mining and oil sands leases in 2019 to establish the provincial park. 

The park increases protection of watercourses flowing into the Peace-Athabasca Delta, which is a globally recognized wetland and one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas. The delta is the seasonal home to millions of migratory birds, and is important for traditional animal harvesting practices. It also secures connectivity between existing wildland provincial parks and Wood Buffalo National Park and protects critical habitat for iconic species such as Woodland Caribou and the Ronald Lake Bison Herd.

“The creation of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland is an example of what can be achieved through collaboration and a focus on sustainability, and Teck is proud to have played a role in achieving this milestone for Alberta,” said Sheila Risbud, Director, Government Affairs, Teck. 

Learn more about our approach to working with governments and Indigenous Peoples in the Business Ethics section of our website.  

First published on March 11, 2020

Updated on June 04, 2021