Yellowknifers may notice new artwork in their neighbourhood in the coming months and learn about Indigenous history in the process.
The city is installing six information kiosks across Yellowknife. They feature short stories from Yellowknives Dene Elders in English and Willideh alongside historical information and original artwork from local artists.
The first kiosk was unveiled on Tuesday at the corner of Franklin Avenue and 50 Street. It features a Robyn Scott painting of a barren-ground caribou with its head “lifted toward the sky as if in a moment of hope.”
“I’m just elated,” Scott told Cabin Radio at the unveiling ceremony. “The idea that I’m going to have a piece of artwork on my neighbourhood street for potentially a long time to come is really exciting to me. I’m very, very honoured.”
Jessica McVicker with a painting to be featured on a kiosk in Old Town. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
Scott said it’s important to her as a settler to take part in reconciliation projects that aim to Indigenize spaces. She hopes her painting will also educate people about the decline of northern caribou populations.
Artwork by Jessica McVicker will appear on a kiosk to be installed in Old Town.
She said her painting, of a girl on a bed of flowers, is an interpretation of winter in the North.
“I want to be part of really positive things in the community,” McVicker said of the kiosk project. “It’s something to be proud of.”
Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina said the kiosks represent reconciliation and action by the City of Yellowknife to recognize the people, traditions and culture of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
“We have lived here for thousands of years and continue to live here today. Since first contact we have welcomed people to our land in the spirit of sharing and respect,” he told a small crowd gathered on Tuesday.
“This kiosk is seen as a tool to teach people about our Dene heritage, history, and the culture.”
Yellowknives Dene First Nation drummers opened Tuesday’s ceremony with a prayer song. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio
City councillor Julian Morse said the kiosk project is five years in the making and the result of collaboration with the First Nation, the city’s heritage committee, and city staff.
“It’s important to highlight the significance of this moment. This is the first time heritage sites specifically significant to the Yellowknives Dene have been recognized by the city’s heritage committee,” Morse said.
The councillor said a permanent position has now been created for a representative of the First Nation on the city’s heritage committee. The city’s strategic plan prioritizes Indigenous history and perspectives, he said.
Four other kiosks will be installed at the RV fill station at the corner of Kam Lake and Old Airport Road, the corner of Franklin Avenue and 54 Street, the corner of Weaver and McDonald Drive, and Hank Koenen Park.