The Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s (YKDFN) and City of Yellowknife took a step towards improving its historically contentious relationship.
On Tuesday at Aurora Village, the city and YKDFN celebrated the completion of the First Nations – Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI).
The relationship between the two was a major discussion.
“I’m happy to say that things have improved,” says Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina, “but there’s always room for improvement.”
The program aims to improve the economic prosperity of participating First Nations and adjacent municipalities through joint community economic development planning and initiatives, the CEDI website states.
The three communities joined in 2019 and are the first in Canada to complete the two-year accelerated program instead of the usual four years.
Betsina says the objective of the program is simple.
“Our goal is to serve our membership, the best way we can,” he explains, “we can serve our people better by getting help from other people and organizations to help us along the way.”
He adds there is one project he hopes the city will help with to further improve the relationship.
“One big project is the Giant Mine because the YKDFN, we can’t do everything,” he says. “The City of Yellowknife, I know that they can help us with that.”
Mayor Rebecca Alty says other projects the three communities can collaborate on includes tourism.
She says COVID-19 has slowed the industry down, but they can still prepare for when visitors are able to return.
“Working on setting up the new Yellowknife Visitor Center, we’ll be working with… The Yellowknives Dene First Nation to get that,” she says.
Sheila Bassi-Kellett, the city administrator, says three communities now need to establish separate economic frameworks and implementation plans.
The event included speeches, a lunch and finished off with YKDFN Drummers.