The World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) announced recently that conservation leader Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, 66, of Dehcho First Nations is the winner of the 2018 $10,000 Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize. The award recognizes Grand Chief Norwegian’s decades of work on the Dehcho Land Use Plan, which sets out a long-term plan to protect approximately 100,000 sq. km of critical boreal forests, wetlands and watersheds in accordance with Dene values.
About the prize: The Glen Davis Award is for an individual who played a key role in bringing meaningful protections to identifiable land or aquatic ecosystems in Canada or led a foundational initiative regarding species or spaces that leaves Canada measurably better off, and has demonstrated personal financial sacrifices to do so.
The prize honours the late Glen Davis’s nationally significant conservation contribution to Canada and continues that contribution through worthy individuals who deliver results in the tradition of his legacy.
Established by WWF-Canada and CPAWS in 2017, on the 10th anniversary year of Glen Davis’s death, the prize is awarded annually.
Grand Chief Herb Norwegian was involved in Dehcho First Nations governance for more than 25 years, holding roles as vice-president of the Dene Nation, Chief for Liidlii Kue First Nation and currently grand chief of the Dehcho First Nations.
He played a critical role in the expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve to six times the size of its original boundaries, permanently protecting more than 30,000 square kilometres of Dehcho territories.
Through community meetings and one-on-one sessions with Dene elders and community members, Grand Chief Norwegian developed detailed land-use and traditional-knowledge maps that became the blueprint for the draft Dehcho Land Use Plan and resulted in continuous interim protection for 100,000 sq. km of wilderness since 2003.
Glen Davis was a Canadian businessman and philanthropist. He was a leading supporter of WWF-Canada’s Endangered Spaces Campaign between 1989-2000, which resulted in the establishment of more than 1,000 new nature reserves, parks and wilderness areas, doubling the amount of protected lands and waters in Canada.
Davis was a strong supporter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, particularly through its local chapters.
He was slain in Toronto on May 18, 2007 at age 66. Three people, including a cousin, were convicted of murder in his death.
Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize winner, stated:
“Conserving our land is something that I’ve put my heart into right from day one when I got into public life. And I’m honoured to work for Mother Earth and my people. We hope that within the next year, the Dehcho will make a major contribution to protecting a good part of the Mackenzie Valley through our process. And we hope that it’s a strong signal to the rest of Canada, and to the world, that First Nations have always been the driving force behind land protection.”
Monte Hummel, president emeritus of WWF-Canada, said:
“Everyone talks about bringing together traditional knowledge with western science, but under Grand Chief Herb Norwegian’s leadership the Dehcho have actually done that through their land-use plan, translating lived experience of the land into more than 50,000 digitalized data points. Grand Chief Norwegian is a Canadian visionary for nature and the Dehcho people, enduring delays for nearly 20 years from the Canadian government in his attempts to protect 50 per cent of the Dehcho First Nations territory. He is responsible for deploying conservation action on the ground at the scale of achievement that inspired the life of Glen Davis.”
Éric Hébert-Daly, national executive director, CPAWS, said:
“Having worked closely with Grand Chief Norwegian over the last two decades on expanding and protecting Nahanni National Park Reserve, we’ve seen first-hand how effective he has been in articulating the vision of his nation. We are thrilled to recognize his past and ongoing leadership in conservation on behalf of his people and ultimately for the benefit of Canada and the world through his example.”
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is dedicated solely to the protection of Canada’s public land, oceans and freshwater, and ensuring our parks are managed to protect nature. We work with all levels of government including indigenous decision-makers, as well as communities and industry to protect Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness – now and forever. cpaws.org