The City of Yellowknife is considering the construction of an arbour within city limits, council heard last week in its budget 2021 update.

Senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett explained that a proposed $50,000 for an Arbour Development Study will explore the possibilities of constructing an arbour for community gatherings in Yellowknife.

The arbour in Fort Providence is one example of a place where NWT communities host local gatherings and fire-feeding ceremonies.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“Certainly for those of us fortunate enough to travel the communities across the NWT will notice that a pretty common piece of local infrastructure is an outdoor arbour that allows for community gatherings and allows for feeding-the-fire ceremonies,” Bassi-Kellett said. “It’s a traditional piece of infrastructure that so many communities use and value. And so what the city administration is proposing this year is that we undertake some work in partnership and collaboration with… (Yellowknives Dene First Nation) to explore the construction of an arbor in Yellowknife.”

Bassi-Kellett said it’s important for a study to ensure that an arbour is built properly using traditional styles of construction and that select people with knowledge about them are consulted on how it should be erected.

“This study would really be for us to be able to formalize our discussions with the YKDFN on this, to take a look at potential locations and to make sure that we get some input from the community at large,” Bassi-Kellett said, noting the importance of honouring Indigenous people within the city limits.

However, the SAO said the idea for an arbour came from an individual, not from the city’s Reconciliation Action Plan.


Fort Providence arbour 

An example of an arbour built in recent years is one in Fort Providence, that seats close to 600 and which was opened in August 2016.

It cost about $500,000 to build and was fully funded through Fort Providence’s federal Gas Tax Fund allocation.

That structure was constructed by a project team called the Dreamcatchers. It was made up of project manager Kyle Humphreys, Derek Martineau and Wendy Martineau.

NNSL Media reached out to YKDFN for comment but was unable to get reaction.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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