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Our Work

The North Slave Métis Alliance’s Environment Department assists our leadership in fulfilling the organization’s mandate which is the “assertion, protection, and implementation of the Aboriginal rights of Métis people, and the exercise of Métis responsibility to protect the environment and to promote and enhance Métis education, economic, social, political, and cultural development.” 

Environment Department Charter



The NSMA Environment Department aspires to help the NSMA become a fully recognized Indigenous Government with a finalized comprehensive claim agreement that plays an active role in environmental governance within the Northwest Territories. At the same time, the Environment Department aspires to provide effective services and opportunities related to its mission to support the needs of the NSMA community.


  • Represent the NSMA as active participants in environmental and natural resource governance and consultation processes while ensuring adequate protection of Aboriginal rights and the environment, and socio-economic benefits for the NSMA.

  • Provide services and opportunities to members with a focus on enhancing community participation in environmental governance and consultation, environmental research, training and capacity building, cultural and on-the-land activities, and ensuring community resources such as the camp at Old Fort Rae remain available for use by the community.

  • Operate as a financially self-sufficient entity within NSMA by generating diversified revenue sources through contribution agreements for capacity funding and businesslike activities relating to contracts for environmental services.

Staff Commitments

  • We will collaborate with NSMA staff, community members, Indigenous groups, the public, and other organizations.

  • We will show respect for people, rights, ideas, and cultures.

  • We are goal-oriented and results-focused.

  • We are innovative and respond to changing information, circumstances, and community needs.

Management & Monitoring

Bathurst Caribou

The Bathurst herd has declined roughly 99% since 1986, with only 6,000 individuals estimated to be remaining. The Bathurst Caribou Advisory Committee, the Caribou Guardians Coalition, Range Planning, and the Habitat Conservation Workshop are comprised of Indigenous governments, Environment & Natural Resources, and other stakeholders to address this concern. Each of these groups bring knowledge holders and participants together to share knowledge and develop plans and policies to conserve the Bathurst herd. NSMA participates in various working groups related to Bathurst caribou alongside the GNWT, stakeholders, and fellow Indigenous groups.


Due to this decline, the NSMA strongly discourages its members from harvesting Bathurst caribou. If you require support harvesting other species, please reach out. In addition to halting harvest, we send members on the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road to monitor Bathurst caribou. Members are provided all tools, equipment, and safety gear they need. While patrolling, members document everything they see using cameras, GPS units, observation forms, and the SIKU app.



Management & Monitoring

Boreal Caribou

Boreal caribou live in the forests east of the Mackenzie Mountains. Their range covers more than 44 million hectares in the NWT and part of northeastern Yukon. Boreal caribou populations have decline in most of their ranges across Canada. In the NWT, boreal caribou are listed as a threatened species and their population is estimated to be between 6,000-7,000 individuals. 


To address these concerns, the NWT has implemented range planning to better manage boreal caribou habitat. NSMA participates in the range planning process in the Wek'eezhii and Southern NWT zones.



Management & Monitoring

Wood Bison

Wood bison were reintroduced into the Mackenzie range back in 1963 near Fort Providence. The population has fluctuated due to disease (anthrax, brucellosis, and bovine tuberculosis), road collisions, and wildfires, but was on a steady incline from 1963 until 2012, when an anthrax outbreak reduced the population from an estimated 1,200 animals to about 500 animals. Wood bison harvest in the Mackenzie range has been shut down since 2012, with the exception of nuisance animals around Fort Providence and the animals within the Bison Control Area (which is in place to avoid transmission of tuberculosis and brucellosis between the infected bison in the national park and the healthy bison in the Mackenzie range). Today, Wood bison is listed as a threatened species under the Species at Risk Act. Harvesting for wood bison for the Mackenzie population was re-opened on Sept 1st, 2021 with a total allowable harvest of 40 bulls. NSMA sits on the Mackenzie Bison Working Group Committee and meets regularly with the group. Since the re-open of harvest, NSMA has been grant 4 tags per year.




Management & Monitoring

Grizzly Bear & Wolverine

The NSMA participates in the Grizzly Bear & Wolverine Working Group. Currently, grizzly bear and wolverine assessments are being organized to make recommendations regarding Bathurst and Bluenose-East management. The Working Group finalizing a document that summarizes all available information on grizzly bear abundance, movement, and diet for the bluenose-east and Bathurst caribou herds’ seasonal ranges. This Working Group has been established to conduct a biological assessment of wolverines and grizzly bears to identify a series of different grizzly bear and wolverine management techniques in the annual range of the Bathurst and Bluenose East herds.



Guardianship Program

In 2021, we kickstarted our Guardianship Program. First, we deployed wildlife cameras across the North Slave region to develop a baseline of what species are present in key locations of interest to our membership. Next, we had several members complete regular patrols along the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road documenting everything they saw. Our goals:

  1. Document wildlife presence across NSMA territory, particularly wildlife of high cultural and subsistence value;

  2. Record any abnormalities observed in wildlife, fish, plants, etc. and investigate these changes if needed through our on the land incentive program;

  3. Create a baseline record of this information to monitor changes year-to-year and whether a changing climate is having any effects; and

  4. Get members on the land and reconnected with one another.

If you want to get involved in this program, reach out to our office!



Regulatory Actions

NSMA’s responsibilities extend beyond the regulatory aspects of major mining projects within our traditional territory. We also actively engage with and review other miscellaneous projects (development or tourism-related projects) to ensure that our community's interests and environmental stewardship values are upheld throughout the decision-making processes. In addition to the comprehensive reviews of land and water use applications for these miscellaneous projects, our involvement encompasses analyzing and providing feedback on their engagement and communication activities.


Mining & Development

Giant Mine

Giant Mine, a former gold mining operation situated in the traditional territory of the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), has a complex and storied history. As stewards of the land, the NSMA has been closely involved with the site to ensure responsible management and remediation, as well as to minimize any lasting impacts on the environment, culture, and well-being of the Indigenous community. Giant Mine, a former gold mining operation situated in the traditional territory of the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), has a complex and storied history. As stewards of the land, the NSMA has been closely involved with the site to ensure responsible management and remediation, as well as to minimize any lasting impacts on the environment, culture, and well-being of the Indigenous community.


NSMA takes our role in safeguarding our community and environment seriously. Our responsibilities encompass a multitude of aspects, including active participation in Working Group meetings, Aquatic Advisory Committee sessions, and Perpetual Care Plan committees. We also contribute to the development of educational resources and attend Human Effects Monitoring Program (HEMP) meetings to ensure that the health and well-being of our community members are prioritized throughout the remediation process.


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Mining & Development

Gahcho Kué Mine

The Gahcho Kué Mine, an open-pit operation that commenced production in 2016, is one of the world's largest new diamond mines. Recognizing the importance of preserving the integrity of the land, the Ni Hadi Xa Agreement was established as a legally binding contract, ensuring that the mine's operations do not compromise the environment and the communities who depend on it.


Ni Hadi Xa, which brings together the North Slave Métis Alliance, Northwest Territory Métis Nation, Deninu Kue First Nation, Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation, Tłı̨chǫ Government, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and De Beers Canada, combines on-site environmental monitoring, desktop technical reviews, and traditional knowledge monitoring to evaluate the mine's impacts. The Governance Committee, the central decision-making body of Ni Hadi Xa, comprises nominees from each signatory, all of whom possess extensive experience in lands, environmental, and regulatory matters.


Mining & Development

Snap Lake

Snap Lake Mine, a former underground diamond mining operation in the Northwest Territories of Canada, remains an important site for the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA) as we continue to uphold our responsibilities as environmental stewards and protectors of the land. Located approximately 220 km northeast of Yellowknife, the mine was owned and operated by De Beers Canada.


The Snap Lake Mine commenced production in 2008 and ceased operations in December 2015 due to economic factors. Although the mine is no longer active, the NSMA remains vigilant in ensuring that any ongoing care, maintenance, and remediation efforts meet the highest environmental standards, preserving the integrity of our traditional territory for future generations.


North Slave Metis Alliance’s role is to actively participate in the regulatory review processes pertaining to the Snap Lake Mine. The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) consults with the NSMA on any relevant regulatory files or processes that require input from Indigenous parties. We provide our comments and expert insights to inform decision-making by the GNWT, ensuring that our community's voice is heard, and our unique perspectives are considered.



Mining & Development

Diavik Mine

Diavik Diamond Mine, a world-renowned diamond mining operation in the Northwest Territories of Canada, exemplifies the collaborative approach that the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA) takes in engaging with major industrial projects within our traditional territory. Situated approximately 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife, the mine has been owned by Rio Tinto and has been producing high-quality diamonds since 2003.


The North Slave Metis Alliance actively participates in the consultation process, providing recommendations and comments on various regulatory aspects associated with the Diavik Mine. Our recent contributions include participating in the Diavik closure and reclamation workshops review, as well as collaborating in the Environmental Agreement Signatory meetings aimed at developing a Traditional Knowledge (TK) watching and monitoring program for mine closure.


Mining & Development

Nighthawk Colomac

Nighthawk Colomac Gold Mine Project, an emerging gold mining endeavour in the Northwest Territories, represents an opportunity for the NSMA to collaborate and engage with the mining industry while upholding our commitment to environmental stewardship and community benefits. Situated approximately 220 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife, the project is managed by Nighthawk Gold Corp and is in the advanced exploration stage, demonstrating the significant potential for gold resource development.


Our role is to engage with the Nighthawk Colomac Gold Mine Project through community consultation and participation. From 2020 to 2021, the engagement has been temporarily limited due to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and less work on the site. However, with the management team's recent changes, the Nighthawk team has actively revitalized communication and engagement with NSMA on various project activities.



Climate Change

The Northwest Territories must continue to adapt to the changing climate. The GNWT is gathering information on how climate change is impacting the lives of Northern residents. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is collaborating with GNWT and NWT climate partners to develop a territory-wide Climate Risk and Opportunities Assessment which is anticipated to be released in the early Spring 2024. As part of this process, the Climate Risk Institute facilitated a series of focus group discussions from March 27-31st which NSMA participated in. This will identify the most pressing climate impacts the NWT is facing and identify shared adaptation priorities. A “What We Heard” report with findings will be released after completion. This information will inform the next Climate Change Strategy Framework Action Plan 2025-2029 and ensure that resources flow directly where they are most needed.


NSMA is participating in the Indigenous Climate Leadership (ICL) co-development process with the Government of Canada to engage Indigenous people in climate policy. We will be holding workshops and meetings with membership to identify priorities, needs and concerns related to environmental changes in NSMA’s traditional territory.


Community Garden

NSMA is building a community garden for the summer of 2023 at their office location on 32 Melville Drive and collaborating with the Yellowknife Women’s Society to build community gardens at the Yellowknife Women’s Centre and Spruce Bough. During the summer, a harvest table will be set up weekly to share freshly grown produce weekly with members. There will be an opportunity to participate and learn as there will be a demonstration table set up each week as well. In the fall, NSMA will host a celebratory harvest feast with the food grown in the garden.

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