New Yellowknife stop signs display both English and Wıı̀lıı̀deh

A dual-language stop sign in Yellowknife
A dual-language stop sign in Yellowknife. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radii

Stop signs in both Wıı̀lıı̀deh and English have been erected in Yellowknife, two months after City Hall identified them as a step toward reconciliation.

In April, city councillors approved a list of reconciliation projects including the updating of municipal stop signs to include the Wıı̀lıı̀deh language.

Chief Edward Sangris, of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, thanked the City of Yellowknife “for acknowledging the Wıı̀lıı̀deh language” in a video shared online by the city’s mayor, Rebecca Alty.

“You can see the first few around downtown, and more are going up shortly,” Alty wrote.



Chief Edward Sangris explains how to pronounce nı̨́ı̨́ké.

“We heard from many residents about how they’d like to see more Wıı̀lıı̀deh Yatıı̀ around the city. Stop signs are our first step, but stay tuned for more.”

In April, senior administrator Sheila Bassi-Kellett had said the City would begin with signs downtown before adding more in Old Town, Ndilǫ, and other areas of Yellowknife.

A formal City of Yellowknife reconciliation plan is still being worked on. The plan is intended to be a “living document” that sets out broad principles guiding the City’s reconciliation work, as well as concrete steps and timelines for implementation and monitoring.

That includes creating “an overall environment that welcomes and supports Indigenous persons within all City facilities and locations,” and the continued education of City staff in learning about Indigenous ways of being.



Other reconciliation projects have included a memorandum of understanding with the Yellowknives Dene and an Elder-in-residence program at the public library.

Funding for these projects comes from $50,000 allocated in the City’s 2020 budget for the purpose of reconciliation.

Once the reconciliation plan is complete, the City hopes to create an internal committee and external reference panel to guide its implementation – alongside a strategic advisor.

Yellowknife is not the first NWT community to install stop signs that include Indigenous languages.

Fort Smith, for example, has signs that display “stop” in English, French, Cree, and Chipewyan.