Dene Nation creates emergency call line dedicated to flood relief

Dene Nation staff prepare to direct, organize and assist the communities of Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River through a call centre. (photo courtesy of Dene Nation)

Historic flooding has devastated the communities of Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River, and the Dene Nation is prepared to help.

The organization, alongside the generosity of Yellowknife residents, donated bundles of dry goods, blankets, tents and other essentials to the communities.

It has also announced the creation of a Flood Relief Command Centre to help with this process, essentially a direct phone line, operating out of the Dene Nation office in Yellowknife.

“We know that the emergency response for these communities is very challenging,” says Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya.

This is the first time the Dene Nation has established a service like this.

“We’re using the command centre as a model that could be used in the future,” says Yakeleya. “We’re learning as we go.”

The call centre was established to be a central point of contact for local governments, contractors, mutual aid and volunteer organizations, reads a press release.

“People in Yellowknife are generous, they’re good, and they want to help,” says Yakeleya, “so we’re using all kinds of means to gather all that energy, and put it towards the (communities affected).”

Chief April Martel, of Kátł’odeeche First Nation, says she is working alongside the Dene Nation to coordinate other donation centres in her community, as well.

Yakeleya says he’s been in contact with federal and provincial leaders this week to call on their aid.

A staff of about 15 people will be responsible for operating this new initiative.

“The Command Centre is open during business hours, but the after-hours line is available for emergencies,” says Laila Adam, communications officer for the Dene Nation.

Residents can reach the emergency line Snookie Catholique, lead operations manager for the program, at 867-688-1855 or the Dene Nation office at 867-873-4081.

Although the full extent of the damage to the communities is unknown at this time, Yakeleya says he is prepared to establish a clean-up effort in the following months.

Clarification: CKLB was initially told the line would operate 24 hours. We have since clarified the line would operate after-hours but not 24 hours a day.

Correction: A previous version of the article referred to Chief Yakeleya as the Dene Grand Chief, he is in fact Dene National Chief. We regret the error.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. On her spare time, you can find her at your local coffee shop writing songs, poetry and prose or at the gym out-lifting men. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at or call 867-766-2552 Ext 108