Unique Features of this Partnership

Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) and the City of Yellowknife CoYK) were chosen to participate in a two-year accelerated model of the CEDI program based on their capacity to develop a sustainable partnership and a shared interest to develop a Joint Economic Development Strategy.

Over the course of the past two years, the Chiefs from YKDFN’s Dettah and Ndilo and City of Yellowknife Mayor, and council and staff from all three communities participated in four joint workshops, maintained a successful collaborative Working Group, co-applied for and received CanNor funding, created an RFP process and Terms of Reference to hire a consultant, co-managed a consultant to create a Joint Economic Development Strategy (JEDS). The latter includes the following three strategic directions: Local Business and Entrepreneurship Support; Workforce Development; and Tourism.

The partners also revised their outdated Memorandum of Understanding, created a shared vision statement and partnership tagline, and created a JEDS Committee to create an implementation plan for the joint strategy. Yellowknives Dene First Nation and City of Yellowknife participated in CEDI between 2019 – 2021.

Areas of Collaboration – Joint CED Themes

  • Joint Economic Development Strategy: local business and entrepreneurship support, workforce development, and tourism.


  • First partnership to participate in a two-year accelerated model of the CEDI program
  • Joint Workshop to learn about each community’s history, culture, governance and economic development priorities, and to build the government to government relationship (June 2019)
  • Updated the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between their communities (December 2019)
  • Joint Workshop to identify shared vision and co-create RFP for consultant to complete a Joint Economic Development Strategy (December 2019)
  • Successful joint applicants to CanNor for funding to complete a Joint Economic Development Strategy (February 2020)
  • Jointly issued RFP and successfully hired consultants to create a Joint Economic Development Strategy, including business and community engagement (March 2020)
  • Joint Workshop to draft a partnership vision statement and to receive joint economic opportunities and proposed strategic directions emerging from the Joint Economic Development Strategy (September 2020)
  • Created a shared vision statement and partnership tagline that was translated to Wiiliideh (January 2021)
  • Joint Economic Development Strategy (JEDS) presented to YKDFN and CoYK councils; councils endorsed the JEDS and requested a committee be formed to create a JEDS Implementation Plan (February 2021)
  • JEDS Committee established Terms of Reference and co-created scoring criteria, critically reviewed and revised the JEDS action and then scored those ten actions for the draft Implementation Plan (April 2021)
  • Jointly hired a ‘Partnership Coordinator’ to support the YKDFN – CoYK JEDS Committee post-CEDI program participation (April 2021)
  • Joint Workshop to celebrate the YKDFN - CoYK partnership shared accomplishments to date and completion of the CEDI program, closing with a drum dance (April 2021)

In the Media:

Why work together?

“We are fortunate to work, live and play in Chief Drygeese Territory, and working with the YKDFN on this strategy will continue to strengthen the relationship between both our communities and advance the economic development of our entire region. We are grateful to have been chosen for this opportunity and are excited to get to work.”

– Mayor Rebecca Alty, City of Yellowknife

“Working together with the City of Yellowknife on this joint economic strategy will bring economic prosperity for all our peoples and the region. We thank Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for having chosen our communities for this important initiative.”

– Edward Sangris, Chief of Dettah, Yellowknives Dene First Nation

"This initiative between the City of Yellowknife and our First Nation is a true example of economic reconciliation in action, as we seek to develop and implement a joint community economic development strategy for today and that future. We look forward to continuing our efforts building a strong relationship and partnership with the City of Yellowknife through this CEDI initiative."

– Ernest Betsina, Chief of Ndilo, Yellowknives Dene First Nation

Next Steps

This partnership has graduated from the CEDI Program. As the first-ever partnership to participate in a two-year accelerated model of CEDI, YKDFN and COYK shared that they felt that the accelerated program was successful because of their history of cooperation, and both communities were committed to the program. However, some participants suggested that a longer program may have allowed both communities to move from the planning and strategizing phase, to the implementation phase. Upon completion of the program, this partnership is well-positioned with a Joint Economic Development Strategy and draft implementation plan, a solid JEDS Committee with Terms of Reference and third-party support from the Partnership Coordinator, and a revised MOU including commitments to continued council to council collaboration. This partnership is well-quipped to collaborate for many years to come and we look forward to seeing which JEDS action this partnership will prioritize first!

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