Yellowknife, twinned with Yakutsk no longer?

Yellowknife may be on the verge of dropping its sister-city relationship with the Russian sub-Arctic hub of Yakutsk.

While it may sound like an absurd attempt at a Russian sanction, a City of Yellowknife council briefing note suggests the move in fact responds to concern that sister cities are no longer really a thing.

City council will on Monday debate severing ties with Yakutsk and all other existing municipal siblings.


In the briefing note, city staff recommend “that the City of Yellowknife dissolve all sister city relationships due to dormancy and obsolescence.”

The document continues: “The City of Yellowknife has entered into sister city relationships with communities in Canada and elsewhere to exchange information, share culture, and promote business and tourism. This practice is now dormant and the relationships that were established have remained inactive for several years.”

The problem may be identifying exactly which relationships to dissolve.

Alongside Yakutsk – apparently a sister city since 1992, shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed – the briefing note gives two other examples: Penticton, BC, a sister city since 1972 when Penticton gave Yellowknife a nice welcome sign that eventually rotted, and Takefu in Japan, a sister city since 1995.

Finding an exhaustive list is a little trickier. Wikipedia will have you believe Reno, Nevada and Fairbanks, Alaska are also sister cities. The online encyclopedia appears to be relying on a 2014 book and an article titled 28 Fun, Weird & Interesting Facts About Yellowknife on a Calgary writer’s travel blog. (Wikipedia also calls Yakutsk “the coldest city in the world,” a brazen if potentially factually accurate claim that ought to have been grounds for striking sisterly relations long ago.)


Takefu appears to have beaten Yellowknife to the punch in dissolving relations, as Takefu managed to dissolve its entire self in 2005. Takefu and nearby Imadate merged that year to create the city of Echizen. Yellowknife has for 17 years held an international candle for a non-existent Japanese town. (Takefu seems to have been famous for its knives, possibly hinting at the reason for the link.)

Councillors will consider the quandary of sister-city relations from 12pm on Monday.

The issue, which is covered in one of the shortest briefing notes (see this agenda, p215-16) council has received in some time, is sandwiched between a discussion of the mayor’s task force on economic development and a proposal to drop the requirement for face masks on public buses.

A formal vote on the matter may come at a later date.