Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

Van Tat K’atr’anahtii (Old Crow Flats)

Caribou antlers on land in a pile near the banks of a river
Van Tat K’atr’anahtii

The Van Tat K’atr’anahtii (Old Crow Flats) Special Management Area lies north of Old Crow. The 12,116 square kilometre area has hundreds of small lakes and is one of Canada’s most important wetland habitats.

The Old Crow Flats is a complex network of over two thousand shallow lakes. It is of such significance that it is the basis of their name Vuntut Gwitchin, which translates to “people of the lakes”.

For millennia, the Gwich’in have lived in and travelled to the Van Tat, British Mountains, and Porcupine River area in northern Yukon for centuries.

The Van Tat K’atr’anahtii is home to populations of migrating and nesting waterfowl, muskrat, summer moose, migrating Porcupine caribou and fish. With its abundance of fish, plants and wildlife, the Old Crow Flats provide sustenance for the Gwich’in throughout the seasons.

The Van Tat K’atr’anahtii was established as a Special Management Area under Chapter 10 of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Final Agreement. This Special Management Area is made up of Yukon public lands, the Vuntut National Park and VGFN Settlement Lands.

The Vuntut Gwitchin, especially Elders, guided the direction of the management plan for this area. Their vision is “Yeendoo Nanh Nakhweenjit K’atr’ahanahtyaa” – “Looking after the land for the future.” This vision speaks to the spirit and intent of the management plan, which is to strive to maintain the integrity of the area as one ecological unit.

Special Management Areas can be protected through different laws depending on what needs safeguarding. The Yukon and National Parks Acts, Yukon and Canadian Wildlife Acts, and Yukon’s Heritage Resources Act are all laws that can be used to protect these areas.

Photo courtesy of Government of Yukon