Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The purpose of clauses 328 to 331, plus clause 333, is to amend the Canada National Parks Act to establish the Thaidene Nëné national park reserve of Canada. The goal is to legally protect a 14,000 square kilometre area of the boreal forest and the traditional territory of the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation and several other indigenous peoples as Canada's 47th national park.
The government signalled its commitment to establish Thaidene Nëné national park reserve in budget 2016, which provided the long-term funding to establish, develop and operate this park. During 2016-17, 90% of participants in our national and regional consultations expressed support for establishing this national park reserve. The proposed amendments respond to some of the issues raised at that time.
Parks Canada is concluding the necessary establishment agreements with the Government of Northwest Territories, the Lutsel K'e Dene and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, as well as consultations with several other indigenous governments. The land transfer agreement with the Government of Northwest Territories is key, as it sets out the terms and conditions under which the territorial government will transfer the lands and waters for this reserve to Canada.
Turning to the specific proposed amendments, clause 331, which is pages and pages of metes and bounds, is simply a description of the boundary that goes into schedule 2 of the act. The boundary includes an excellent representation of this natural region, will maintain ecological integrity and provide iconic visitor experience, and includes areas of importance to indigenous communities. I must also stress that the boundary excludes all identified areas of high and very high mineral potential.
Clauses 328 to 330 ensure that non-indigenous land uses and activities that are typically not permitted in national parks will continue in Thaidene Nëné. These activities include berry picking and the gathering of medicinal and healing plants for personal use, the cutting and gathering of wood for campfires and temporary shelters, and subsistence harvesting.
It's also important to inform the committee that the amendments ensure the continuation of certain third party interests, such as a tourist lodge and a recreational property. They provide Parks Canada with the authority to permit activities such as aircraft access, which is a major means of accessing this region, and fuel caches will also be permitted, which is important to users of this region. These provisions are consistent with the land transfer agreement negotiated between Parks Canada and the territorial government.
Finally, these amendments will only come into force after the land transfer agreement with the GNWT is signed, which we are hoping to accomplish this June. We are also working to sign at the same time agreements with indigenous organizations.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.