City, YKDFN celebrate economic development initiative

The City of Yellowknife and Yellowknives Dene First Nation have celebrated their graduation from a program designed to help the two create a joint economic development strategy.

The city and Yellowknives Dene are the first in Canada to complete an accelerated two-year version of the First Nations-Municipal Community Economic Development Initiative, known as CEDI. They also worked on an updated memorandum of understanding.

Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina said the work would “ensure economic development is realized for both our communities” during a graduation ceremony held at Aurora Village on Tuesday.


“Covid-19 has affected us all,” he added. “While we have had to endure the stress and life-changing events, this [memorandum] and the joint economic development strategy will help ensure that both communities recover strongly in the spirit of hope, friendship and reconciliation.”

Left to right, Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty; John Hazenberg, NWT director for the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers; and Ndilǫ Chief Ernest Betsina. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

CEDI is an initiative of the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

In 2020, the federal government said it would invest $150,000 in the project. According to the city, the strategy will guide how Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ together maximize their future growth and prosperity. The detail of the strategy is not yet available.

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation says both the First Nation and the city will keep their existing, separate strategies while contributing to the joint vision.

Beyond economic developments, Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said, the partnership allowed the two groups to build relationships. 


“We were brought together because we’re working on a joint economic development strategy but, through the process, we’ve really worked on a lot,” she said.

“We’re really looking forward to the journey and growing and learning.”


Leaders take part in a drum dance at the graduation ceremony.