First Nation praises creation of new park to buffer Alberta national park

EDMONTON — A First Nation say creating a new wildland park in northern Alberta will go a long way toward ensuring Indigenous people can keep up their traditional pursuits.

Melody Lepine of the Mikisew Cree First Nation says the new park will also start to answer concerns a United Nations body has expressed about the existing Wood Buffalo National Park.

The new 1,600-square kilometre park links and expands two previously announced parks buffering Wood Buffalo National Park.

It will be called Kitaskino Nuwenëné — Cree and Dene words meaning “our land.”

Lepine credits several industry players with returning oilsands leases to the government, allowing the new park to be created.

She says Indigenous people use the land for gathering and trapping, and it’s home to the only bison herd they are allowed to hunt.

The entire park will be open for non-motorized use and snowmobiles will be allowed on existing trails.

It will be closed to forestry and new energy development, although existing wells can keep operating.

The Canadian Press

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