The Northwest Territories Métis Nation will now sit at the negotiation table for a proposed national park on the east arm of Great Slave Lake.
The group announced yesterday it’s in talks with Parks Canada about how the proposed Thaidene Nene park will be managed.
"We want to make sure that all our harvesting rights are protected, our hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering, that has to all be accommodated,” says Métis Nation president, Garry Bailey.
“That what we do in there today, we'll be able to do once the park is established."
The park, in the works since the late 1960s, would take in over 30,000 square kilometres of land, including dramatic cliffs and islands that are home to barrenground caribou, muskoxen, black bears and moose.
Up until now the federal government was negotiating only with the Lutsel'ke Dene First Nation, an isolated community of about 300 people on the east arm's southern shore.
But the proposed park is on land the NWT Métis consider part of their traditional territory, and Bailey says it won't get support or approval from the Métis until there is an impact and benefit plan in place.
Bailey also wants any economic benefits coming out of the park to be shared equally between First Nations.
And he wants the Métis to play a role in managing the park.
While Lutselk'e has been the driving force behind the park, the Métis would like to have a say in everything from the park’s name to the final boundaries.
Negotiations are expected to take about 18 months.