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Indigenous Relations

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The City of Yellowknife supports reconciliation with Indigenous persons and continues to work to explore new ways of working together through respectful relationships.

The City values its relations  with Indigenous peoples, governments, agencies and institutions in the Northwest Territories and works to be respectful of traditions, cultures and ways of being. Reconciliation is a core value that Council continues to champion and uphold.  As the Capital, we are a crossroads for Indigenous peoples and groups from across the north.  Our community has a large Indigenous population representing all areas of the Northwest Territories and beyond - about 24% of City residents are Indigenous.  In particular, our partnerships with neighbouring Indigenous governments including the Yellowknives Dene First Nations, Tlicho, and others, are a key priority for the City.

The City Council of Yellowknife adopted the Calls to Action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Motion #0248-15 on July 27, 2015 and adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons (UNDRIP) through Motion #0324-15 on October 26, 2015. The City is working to implement actions that bring meaning to these important symbolic commitments.

On December 5, 2019 the City of Yellowknife and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines how the two governments commit to working together, building on and modernizing the previous MOU which was implemented in 2002.  

The MOU commits to collaboration between the YKDFN and the City through regular meetings between leadership and senior staff.  It recognizes the City’ s and the YKDFN’ s commitment to reconciliation and mutual support guided by common values and mutual interests.

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the City of Yellowknife have developed a Joint Economic Development Strategy to guide shared economic development interests and provide a framework for partnership to move forward.   The Yellowknives Dene First Nation City of Yellowknife Joint Economic Development Strategy and Yellowknives Dene First Nation City of Yellowknife Joint Economic Development Strategy - Technical Report were adopted for information by City Council on March 22, 2021.

On June 28, 2021, the Council of the City of Yellowknife approved the Reconciliation Framework and the the Reconciliation Action Plan for broad public engagement and feedback from Indigenous partners, governments and members of the public. 

The City of Yellowknife recognises that our settler footprint on Chief Drygeese territory is new, and it is incredibly important to honour the original residents and the significant contributions of Indigenous peoples in our community.  As the capital city of the Northwest Territories, we are a crossroads for many peoples and seek the guidance of as many Indigenous governments and organizations as possible in recognition of  your connection with Yellowknife, while respecting our unique relationship with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) given our location on Chief Drygeese territory, the unceded lands of the Yellowknives.

 During 2019, the City released its document Reconciliation: Starting the Conversation as a means to engage with the community in a concrete way, seeking input through coffee breaks, online and written comments, one-on-one engagement and community gatherings. A broad range of comments were gathered and, along with consideration of best practices for municipal governments, have informed the development of the City’s Reconciliation Framework and Action Plan.  As we all feel the pain and horror around the discovery of mass graves at residential schools across Canada, action – meaningful action – is more important than ever.

The Framework and Action Plan have been developed by the City, including expert external review, prior to being shared with the YKDFN and the North Slave Metis Alliance in February 2021

  • The Reconciliation Framework outlines the high level, principles-based approach to how the City will work to advance reconciliation; this will be a standing document that should be reviewed in 3 – 5 years.
  • The Reconciliation Action Plan is a living document that includes current and future actions, can be amended/added to at any time and will be reviewed annually.

Thank you for taking the time to review the Framework and Action Plan and the City welcomes your suggestions or a conversation on reconciliation. Please email reconciliation@yellowknife.ca or call 920-5693.

Initiatives

In the spirit of reconciliation, other actions the City has undertaken include the following:

 

  • We fly the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA) flags at City Hall, along with the Canadian, NWT and City flags
  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on relationships and services
  • Regular Council to Council meetings with YKDFN and regular meetings between Mayor/Chiefs, and senior staff (CEO and City Administrator)
  • Collaboration with YKDFN on: 
    • the boundary between our two communities – a ground-breaking approach which involved our two communities exploring interests and reaching agreement before we jointly submitted to GNWT
    • Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) – joint economic development partnership sponsored by CANDO and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
    • NAKA Festival – to celebrate aurora. Inaugural festival took place February 2019
    • Hockey Day In Canada
  • Regular engagement with the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA)
  • Collaboration with YKDFN and NSMA on securing a safe clean source of water for our communities for the water submarine line replacement from the mouth of the Yellowknife River 
  • Intercultural Heritage & Placemaking Plan – implementation in 2020 Support for Urban Hide Tanning
  • Elder in residence at the Library
  • Land tenure for AIWF’s healing camp on City owned land  
  • Supporting healing and wellness programming at the AIWF healing camp
  • Training for all City employees on the history and legacy of residential schools
  • Yellowknives Dene First Nation City of Yellowknife Joint Economic Development Strategy and Background Report

The City of Yellowknife continues to seek ways to implement reconciliation through a Reconciliation Framework and Reconciliation Action Plan. We seek ideas and input from Indigenous governments, organizations and partners as well as residents and others who see ways to strengthen how Indigenous ways of being are recognised and honoured.  Please forward any ideas to reconciliation@yellowknife.ca.

Reconciliation

The City of Yellowknife is committed to building relationships with Indigenous Peoples in the spirit of reconciliation. City Council recently confirmed its Strategic Priorities for 2019-2022 and reconciliation is highlighted as one of six core values for the City.

The following quotes from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) “What We Have Learned: Principles Truth and Reconciliation” document reflect the City’s understanding of reconciliation:

“To the Commission, ‘reconciliation’ is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country.”[1]

“Reconciliation must support Aboriginal peoples as they heal from the destructive legacies of colonization that have wreaked such havoc in their lives. But it must do even more. Reconciliation must inspire Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to transform Canadian society so that our children and grandchildren can live together in dignity, peace, and prosperity on these lands we now share.”[2]

“At a Traditional Knowledge Keepers Forum sponsored by the TRC, Anishinaabe Elder Mary Deleary spoke about the responsibility for reconciliation that both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people carry. She emphasized that the work of reconciliation must continue in ways that honour the ancestors, respect the land, and rebalance relationships. She said:

“I’m so filled with belief and hope because when I hear your voices at the table, I hear and know that the responsibilities that our ancestors carried ... are still being carried ... even through all of the struggles, even through all of what has been disrupted ... we can still hear the voice of the land. We can hear the care and love for the children. We can hear about our law. We can hear about our stories, our governance, our feasts, [and] our medicines.... We have work to do. That work we are [already] doing as [Aboriginal] peoples. Our relatives who have come from across the water [non-Aboriginal people], you still have work to do on your road.... The land is made up of the dust of our ancestors’ bones. And so to reconcile with this land and everything that has happened, there is much work to be done ... in order to create balance.”[3]

TRC Principles of Reconciliation

The City will use the TRC Principles of Reconciliation as a compass in our work; they are: 

  1. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.
  2. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, as the original peoples of this country and as self-determining peoples, have Treaty, constitutional, and human rights that must be recognized and respected.
  3. Reconciliation is a process of healing relationships that requires public truth sharing, apology, and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.
  4. Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Aboriginal peoples’ education, cultures and languages, health, child welfare, administration of justice, and economic opportunities and prosperity.
  5. Reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health, and economic outcomes that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
  6. All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.
  7. The perspectives and understandings of Aboriginal Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of the ethics, concepts, and practices of reconciliation are vital to long-term reconciliation.
  8. Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.
  9. Reconciliation requires political will, joint leadership, trust building, accountability, and transparency, as well as a substantial investment of resources.
  10. Reconciliation requires sustained public education and dialogue, including youth engagement, about the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights, as well as the historical and contemporary contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian society.[4]
  11. The City of Yellowknife is working to develop a Reconciliation Plan that will confirm the foundation for how the City will build respectful relationships with, and create a more inclusive representation of, Indigenous Peoples within the City of Yellowknife.

Find more information about the City of Yellowknife’s community engagement on reconciliation or provide ideas or feedback on reconciliation.

Yellowknives Dene First Nation

The City of Yellowknife acknowledges that the community of Yellowknife exists as a result of the forced dispossession of Indigenous peoples, members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), from their traditional ancestral lands. This truth needs to be told to create an accurate shared history upon which respectful relationships can be built. As the City seeks to work respectfully with the Yellowknives in the spirit of reconciliation, there is acknowledgement of the unique relationship that needs to be built and maintained with the YKDFN. As such, the City works to uphold a government-to-government relationship with the YKDFN with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines high level commitments to collaboration.

Dene Nahjo

Contacts

City of Yellowknife
General Inquiries
City Hall
4807 - 52 Street
P.O. Box 580
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N4
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P: (867) 920-5600
F: (867) 920-5649
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Hours of Operation

Winter Hours effective following the Labour Day Weekend
until prior to the Victoria Day Weekend (September to May)
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

Summer Hours effective following the Victoria Day Weekend
until prior to the Labour Day Weekend (May to September)
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

Mailing Address & Phone Numbers

Yellowknife City Hall
4807 - 52 Street, P.O. Box 580, Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N4

Switchboard - (867) 920-5600
Mayor/City Manager - (867) 920-5634
Booking Clerk - (867) 669-3457
Municipal Enforcement (MED) - (867) 920-5630
After Hours (MED) - (867) 920-2737
After Hours (Public Works) - (867) 920-5699