New Indigenous-led conservation area in the Yukon protects wildlife, habitat and Inuvialuit culture and identity

The Blow River on the Yukon’s Eastern North Slope, an area covered under the newly signed Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area Agreement. Photo credit: Peter Mather.

This is a joint news release between the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Inuvialuit Game Council, Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee, Aklavik Community Corporation, the Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon.

The Government of Yukon has signed onto the Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area Agreement together with the Government of Canada and Inuvialuit Parties to ensure the conservation and protection of Aullaviat/Anguniarvik, the Eastern North Slope of the Yukon in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

The Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area covers almost 8,500 km2 total land. It supports conservation and protection across the northern Yukon and is connected to a network of protected areas that spans international borders. The network includes Ivvavik and Vuntut National Parks and Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park, Niaqunnaq (part of Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area), and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Together, this network supports wildlife populations that are an important part of the Inuvialuit way of life, such as the Porcupine Caribou Herd, polar bears, migratory birds and many other species, including species at risk.

The Agreement is a vision of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement signed in 1984, which identified the northern portion of the Yukon as a place for the conservation of wildlife, habitat and traditional Inuvialuit use. The area is managed under the Wildlife Conservation Management Plan for the Yukon’s North Slope. Together, the Agreement and Management Plan support efforts to preserve Inuvialuit culture, identity and values, and conserve wildlife, habitat and biodiversity in the area.

To support Inuvialuit-led conservation, the Government of Canada is contributing $10 million in funding with a $3.5 million match from philanthropic organizations (444S Foundation, Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation and Art to Acres) to establish a Trust that will support an Inuvialuit-led monitoring program. The program, called the Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Stewardship and Guardians Program, will support management and monitoring of the area, enable on‑the‑land cultural engagement across generations and provide meaningful jobs in Aklavik.

Indigenous-led conservation areas are lands and waters where Indigenous governments have the primary role in protecting and conserving ecosystems through Indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. Supporting Indigenous-led conservation and reporting new areas as protected in the Yukon is also a commitment of the Canada-Yukon Nature Agreement. The signing of the Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area Agreement ensures the area, which covers 1.8 per cent of the Yukon’s landmass, is reported to the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database, bringing the Yukon’s total protected and conserved areas to 21.1 per cent.

Indigenous-led conservation is one of the most important pathways for achieving Canada’s biodiversity goals and sustaining long-term conservation gains. Congratulations to the many partners who have worked toward the creation of the Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area over the last 40 years. This historic agreement ensures the region’s lands, waters, and biodiversity will remain conserved for future generations and is an example of Canada’s ongoing commitment to a distinctions-based approach for Inuvialuit. Through partnerships like this, Canada continues to make progress toward conserving 30 percent of lands and waters in Canada by 2030.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Steven Guilbeault  

Our government is pleased to sign the Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area Agreement. We are committed to supporting Indigenous-led conservation in the Yukon to help protect and restore nature and biodiversity which aligns with the goals of the Canada-Yukon Nature Agreement. Thank you to the Government of Canada and the Inuvialuit for bringing this historic agreement to fruition which will be instrumental in preserving Inuvialuit culture, identity and values, and protecting and conserving wildlife, habitat and biodiversity in the area for generations.

Minister of Environment for the Government of Yukon, Nils Clarke  

Indigenous peoples have been stewards and managers of the land, waters, and ice, and leaders in ecosystem conservation since time immemorial. Establishing new Inuvialuit-led conservation areas is one way we are working together. It is in the spirit and practice of reconciliation that the Government of Canada works with Indigenous communities, like Inuvialuit, in stewardship activities while continuing to make progress toward conserving 30 percent of lands and waters in Canada by 2030.

Member of Parliament for Yukon, Brendan Hanley

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation represents the rights and interests of Inuvialuit. We are pleased that after several years of work, Inuvialuit, governments and philanthropic organizations have been able to come together in furtherance of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement’s goals which recognize the special nature of Aullaviat/Anguniarvik and its link to Inuvialuit cultural, environmental and economic objectives. IRC will maintain the trust fund and work with all interested parties to ensure that the stewardship of Inuvialuit traditional lands continues for generations to come.

Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Chair and CEO, Duane Ningaqsiq Smith 

This milestone is an important and significant accomplishment for the parties involved, but most importantly for the Inuvialuit people. Aullaviat/Anguniarvik holds great value to our people and the wildlife we have harvested for subsistence since time immemorial. The Inuvialuit Game Council is proud to acknowledge this huge step forward in Inuvialuit-led conservation in our region and is looking forward to the benefits this agreement will have to our land, our wildlife and our communities.

Inuvialuit Game Council Chair, Dean Arey

Aullaviat/Anguniarvik means ‘where wildlife and people travel, a place to hunt’ and this place has been a vital part of the Inuvialuit homeland since time immemorial. The traditional use and management of this area is central to our Inuvialuit culture, identity and values. We are proud to finally establish an agreement with Canada and the Yukon that will allow us to continue to take care of the animals and sustain our culture. 

Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee President and Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Working Group representative, William Storr 

Aullaviat/Anguniarvik is a very special place for Inuvialuit, where we have travelled, harvested, and lived for many generations. Aullaviat/Anguniarvik is home to caribou, moose, bears, fish, birds, and many other important animals. Harvesting in Aullaviat/Anguniarvik supports the cultural, spiritual, and economic health of Inuvialuit. We need to be out on the land to keep it healthy. We are proud to announce the establishment of the Aullaviat/Anguniarvik Traditional Conservation Area and associated funding for Inuvialuit-led management of the area. This funding will allow Inuvialuit in Aklavik to get out on the land, share knowledge between generations, fill our freezers, and secure a healthy and vibrant future for our young people and for Aklavik.

Aklavik Community Corporation President/Chair, Jordan McLeod 

Quick facts 
  • In Inuvialuktun, Aullaviat/Anguniarvik means “where wildlife and people travel, a place to hunt.”

  • Members of the Inuvialuit Parties include the Inuvialuit Game Council, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee and the Aklavik Community Corporation.

  • The 40th anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement was celebrated June 5, 2024.

  • The Canada-Yukon Nature Agreement took effect in April 2023. Through this agreement, the Government of Canada is supporting the Government of Yukon and Indigenous governments to work towards initiatives related to conservation, protected areas, and biodiversity.

  • Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas helps to protect wildlife habitat and safeguard healthy, resilient ecosystems, which contribute to the recovery of species at risk. Expanding conserved and protected natural areas is one of the most important actions that we can take to curb the ongoing loss of nature and biodiversity.

Media contact 

Laura Seeley
Cabinet Communications
[email protected]

Kyle Nightingale
Communications, Environment
[email protected]

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
[email protected]

Allison Thompson
Program Manager, Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope)
Coordinating interviews on behalf of the Inuvialuit Parties
[email protected]

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