NWT won’t take holiday for Queen, but some First Nations will

Prince Charles and Chief Edward Sangris in Dettah on May 19, 2022
Prince Charles and Chief Edward Sangris in Dettah on May 19, 2022. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

Some First Nations have said they will observe a holiday for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, even as the Northwest Territories declined to do so.

Premier Caroline Cochrane said on Wednesday the declaration of a federal holiday had come with too little notice for the NWT to follow suit, given the demands on its public service. (The Yukon, by contrast, declared a public sector holiday.)

But both the Tłı̨chǫ Government and Yellowknives Dene First Nation said they would treat Monday, September 19 as a holiday.

“All Yellowknives Dene First Nation offices will be closed on Monday, September 19, 2022 to mourn the loss of our late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” the Yellowknives Dene First Nation stated on Facebook.



In a notice to residents, the Tłı̨chǫ Government said Monday would be “a designated holiday … for all Tłı̨chǫ Government staff.”

So far, few other First Nations and Indigenous groups in the territory have made public statements about the holiday.

The decisions of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and Tłı̨chǫ Government were not universally welcomed.

While various Indigenous governments this month joined other leaders in offering tributes to the late Queen, some residents feel she embodied a colonial system that has brought decades of trauma to the North.



“As an Indigenous person, I will not mourn the loss of a woman responsible for spearheading the genocide of Indigenous people across the globe,” one person wrote beneath the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s announcement.

“The Queen was in power for 70 years and no apology from the monarchy,” read a response to the Tłı̨chǫ announcement. “Think about it. Ask what the Tłı̨chǫ Residential School Survivors think or feel about this.”

The most-liked response simply stated: “Nice way for the staff to get bonuses and double pay. Smart.”