The Mackenzie River is the longest river system in Canada and the second largest drainage basin in North America (after the Mississippi). The river is known by many names to local communities (e.g., Dehcho in Slavey, Nagwichoonjik in Gwich’in and Kuukpak in Inuvialuktun) and has been key to the survival of Indigenous Peoples in the North for thousands of years. The Basin stretches across large parts of western Canada and is home to more than 300,000 people, 10% of whom are First Nations, Métis and Inuvialuit (MRBB 2003; GNWT 2010). The subsistence fishery of the Mackenzie features numerous species including broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus) and loche (Lota lota).
Area: 1,805,200 km2 (that’s one-fifth of the entire area of Canada!)
Human Population: As of 2001, there were approximately 400,000 people living in the Mackenzie River Basin. (10% First Nation, Metis or Inuit)
Jurisdictions: BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Nortwest Territories as well as Treaties 6, 8 and 10 and multiple First Nation Reserves and several Metis settlements
Ecology: Forests (boreal), wetlands, sparse vegetation, foothills and some prairie. The Mackenzie River Basin has a large fish ecology as noted by the Elders in the area, notably by the Inuvialuit.
- Primary development in the area is oil extraction and deforestation.
- Petroleum Development
- Commercial Fish Harvesting
- Water quality is a major issue affecting the health of the delta. A commonly cited indicator of water quality is muddy water or “too much dirt in the water”
- Flooding is also noted from industry and changing climate