City of Yellowknife and YKDFN propose boundary changes

From left to right: Dettah Chief Edward Sangris, Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty and Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina (CKLB file photo)

“We want to be as one.”

That’s what Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina told reporters after the City of Yellowknife supported the Yellowknives Dene First Nation push to re-draw the boundaries between the two communities.

In June, YKDFN council passed a resolution supporting the changes. The most noticeable difference would come in the northern part of town where the new boundary would cut through Latham Island and Ndilo would be excluded from the city limits.

Jolliffe Island would also be ceded to YKDFN, along with the bay where several houseboaters call home.

Yellowknife councillor Julian Morse said the change has some houseboaters a little on edge.

Dettah Chief Edward Sangris said more talks are to come as to how exactly the change would affect the house boat community but said safety was the priority.

Betsina said Ndilo was often left out when it came to funding opportunities. He said he often had to go to his Dettah counterpart so they can request funds.

If the community is administered together, I’m hoping the process would be a lot easier now,” said Betsina.

The agreement between Yellowknife and YKDFN is a first step. Ultimately, the decision is up to the Government of the Northwest Territories.

According to Sangris, who was at the Akaitcho negotiation session a couple of weeks ago, the GNWT seemed receptive to the changes.

CKLB asked how the chiefs and mayor would ensure this doesn’t get dropped by the wayside with a territorial election coming up and possible changes in government.

Sansgris said the proposed boundary change has been a long-time coming, reiterating that YKDFN has previously spoken to many city councils before.

He said he was confident the territorial government would accept the changes.

Alty said the boundary change would work its way through GNWT administration, which will need to consult with other groups, like the North Slave Métis Alliance. However, she added that she was confident the changes would be adopted as the request was coming from both the city and YKDFN.

If they are to be adopted, the city would gain a significant amount of land to the south and west.

Mayor Rebecca Alty said this is to ensure water and sewer assets are included in the boundary, as well as look for future growth in the next 50 years.

With all councillors in favour of the changes, the city will officially adopt a motion at its council meeting on Monday, July 22.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.