An Indigenous Leaders Water Summit will be held in Inuvik from March 14th to 17th, 2023. The Water Summit, called “Nagwichoonjik,” is a Gwich’in word that means “River through a big country.” The Nagwichoonjik Water Summit focuses on issues regarding the water quality of the Mackenzie river drainage basin and its effects on human health, fish, fish habitat, and wildlife.
The Nagwichoonjik Water Summit is a historic gathering of Dene Leadership, Inuvialuit, Metis, and citizens sharing observations and directives for the path forward. The summit highlighted the importance of community/regionally directed research relevant to the area, using traditional knowledge, scientific data, and our human right to clean water. The Dene Nation, with the Inuvialuit, Metis and Dene communities, heard presentations on natural and industrial contaminants, climate change, health, and risks to fish and fish habitat concerning food security.
The Water Summit is a step towards a more direct conversation with Indigenous communities and regions of the Northwest Territories (NWT) about fish and fish habitat conservation and protection under the Fisheries Act or the Species at Risk Act.
Dene, Metis, and Inuit traditional lands cover approximately 20% of Canada’s land mass. That is 25% of the Boreal Forest. These homelands include the Mackenzie River watershed to the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean between the Yukon/NWT border and Kugluktuk, Nunavut, which are Treaty 11 lands and the homelands of the Inuvialuit.