City council warm to half-day holiday for start of YKDFN Spring Carnival

There is a strong tradition of spring carnivals across Denendeh. Here, two Dene men run in a three-legged snowshoe race, on Yellowknife Bay on March 31, 1962. (Photo courtesy NWT Archives/Henry Busse fonds.)

Calls to support the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s Spring Carnival received feverish support from city councillors who decided to fast track a request from the organizers.

First reading will be on Monday March 25 at the Governance and Priorities committee on, then final two readings in the evening during the Council session.

Carnival festivities begin on April 5 and finish on April 7th in Dettah.

Should the bylaw passes as planned, City workers and employees of private businesses whose employer supports the Spring Carnival will finish work at noon on Friday April 5 and have the afternoon off.

The GNWT has informally followed the city’s lead in years past.

On the Committee’s agenda, YKDFN leadership stated it “YKDFN lsupports this proposed action by the City and encourages Yellowknifers to attend the planned Carnival events.

“Supporting a civic holiday … will endorse Yellowknifers’ ability to actively engage in cultural activities and the Northern tradition of spring carnivals.”

In previous years, Council would pass similar bylaws for the Long John Jamboree and its predecessor, the Caribou Carnival.

The Long John Jamboree has been unable to stage an event since before the pandemic. A few years of bad weather brought the Long John festival to its knees.

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation Spring Carnival is renowned for its full schedule, which has included a fishing contest, talent contests, handgames, leg wrestling, stick pulls snowshoe races and a huge community feast on Sunday.

Everyone is welcome, but please note it is a dry event, so no alcohol or drugs.

The ice road on Yellowknife Bay will take you right to Dettah.


EDIT: A sharp-eyed reader noticed a couple of errors in the story, which were then corrected March 20. Errors are bound to sneak into our work  once in a while, and we do appreciate hearing about them.

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James O'Connor
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