The City of Yellowknife's Heritage Committee has appointed an indigenous representative from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

On Monday, city council approved amending the 11-member committee's terms of reference. The number of members of the public on the heritage committee was reduced to eight from nine, and one representative from the Yellowknives Dene was added.

Fred Sangris was nominated by the Yellowknives Dene to represent them on the committee, and city council officially appointed him on Monday to the position for a two-year term.

The City of Yellowknife resides on the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The committee makes recommendations to the city on preserving and promoting heritage.

Sangris, a former Yellowknives Dene chief and a historian and storyteller, said he was happy with the appointment and hopes to incorporate more of the history of the Yellowknives Dene into heritage projects throughout the city.

Opportunity to educate residents, visitors

He said that not many people living in or visiting Yellowknife know very much about the Yellowknives Dene and the stories they have. He said he hopes this will change with the First Nation's involvement on the committee.

"Being part of [the] Heritage Committee we can put up signs, plaques around the city, ... so they have a good understanding of the people of Yellowknife and the people in the surrounding area here," said Sangris.

He said one of the things discussed in his first committee meeting was documenting and sharing historical accounts about the areas Yellowknives Dene occupied around the capital.

Julian Morse

Yellowknife city councillor Julian Morse, chair of the city's heritage committee, says appointing a Yellowknives Dene representative to the committee opens up 'opportunities for recognizing a huge part of Yellowknife's history that previously hasn't been recognized on the level I'm hoping it will be.' (CBC)

For example, he said the hilltop where Pilots' Monument is located was not only used to help pilots flying into the city, but was used by Yellowknives Dene as a lookout point for hunting and watching for people travelling over the lake. He said he would like to see some kind of recognition of this history alongside the Pilots' Monument.

Committee chair Julian Morse said appointing a representative from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation was something the committee had wanted to do for a long time and that committee members recognized the need for better representation from the indigenous community.

"Everybody on the committee is very excited to have Fred on board," he said.

"I think we're looking forward to a new chapter in the Heritage Committee and opening up opportunities for recognizing a huge part of Yellowknife's history that previously hasn't been recognized on the level I'm hoping it will be."