Engage North

Yellowknives Dene First Nation

Yellowknives Dene First Nation Logo 

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation are a Treaty 8 Nation located in the southern Northwest Territories, forming one part of the Akaitcho Territory Government. The population of Yellowknives Dene First Nation is centered in two communities: N’dilo and Dettah. N’dilo borders the City of Yellowknife on the tip of Latham Island, and Dettah is located about thirty minutes away along the north shore of Great Slave Lake. Together, these communities form Chief Drygeese Territory, the traditional lands of YKDFN.

YKDFN is governed by two Chiefs and a Council, with one Chief residing in each community. Administrative buildings are located in both N’dilo and Dettah, operating out of the Det’on Cho Corporation building in N’dilo and the Chief Drygeese building in Dettah. The community is deeply committed to maintaining traditional cultural values such as speaking the traditional language, respecting the land and protecting Treaty rights. These principles are practiced by following the Dene Laws, even in contemporary times.


YKDFN is the most recent community to partner with Engage North. The first EN students were invited to the community in the summer of 2017, comprised of three fellows and two interns. The following summer, one intern filled the Community Garden and Environmental Education Internship. All students worked as a subdivision of Dechita Naowo, YKDFN’s employment training program.

Community Projects

Community Garden and Environmental Education Internship -

Working with University of Alberta mentors, participating community members and the Community Garden Coordinator for YKDFN, two Engage North interns support the existing community gardens and newly built greenhouses in both N’dilo and Dettah. These gardens provide produce for community members, including dedicated boxes for Youth and Elders. Interns also participate in the community by facilitating gardening workshops; developing a recipe book featuring produce grown in the gardens and spending time with youth in the community to help educate them on gardening and growing their own food.

Water Fellowship -

In partnership with IC-IMPACTS, the Water fellow works with the community to develop projects in accordance with the fellow’s academic background in water resource management. Fellows are graduate students with expertise in a discipline that each particular community has identified as an area in need of intervention. Former Water fellow Thadsha Chandrakumaran worked with YKDFN to assess the impact of Giant Mine on community drinking water resources. See her blog for more information on her project and fellowship.

Health fellowship -

In partnership with IC-IMPACTS, the Health fellow works with the community to develop projects in accordance with the fellow’s academic background in public and community health. Fellows are graduate students with expertise in a discipline that each particular community has identified as an area in need of intervention. Former Health fellows Kavita Singh and Laurie-Ann Lines worked with YKDFN and GNWT to study the effects of of environmental-health issues brought up by Giant Mine. Kavita also worked with YKDFN to develop potential solutions to health care delivery issues in the region. See their blogs (links?) for more information on their projects and fellowships.