North

Nahanni Butte, N.W.T., cheers new post office that puts an end to piling mail on planes

After sharing a postal code with Fort Simpson for her entire life, Marlene Matou said a unique postal code for Nahanni Butte will put her small N.W.T. community on the map.

New postal code will show world that Nahanni Butte exists, says resident

House numbers went up on homes in Nahanni Butte in April. The signs were designed by Destiny Ekotla and depict a beaver in front of Tthenáágó, the sacred mountain which Nahanni Butte lies at the foot of. They're part of a process that will give the community its own postal code. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

New street signs and house numbers are paving the way for Nahanni Butte, N.W.T., to get its own postal code and post office outlet this fall. 

Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band Chief Steve Vital said the changes will improve the delivery of mail and emergency services in the community of 93 people. For at least one of those residents, it will do more than that. 

Marlene Matou has lived in Nahanni Butte, just outside of Nahanni National Park Reserve, for her entire 44 years, and has often found herself having to explain why it shares Fort Simpson's X0E 0N0 postal code.

"We're under Fort Simpson's postal code because our community is so small that it's like we don't exist," she said. The new X0E 2N0 code, she said, will show the rest of the world that Nahanni Butte does exist. 

"I'm really happy for that," she said. 

How the community was involved

Soham Srimani, the community's band manager, said the band began working to establish a post office outlet in Nahanni Butte in December.

The past few months have involved several meetings with the Crown corporation and changes that Vital said were necessary to make the outlet a reality: securing the new postal code, naming every street, and putting numbers on every house. 

Street signs in Nahanni Butte in June 2022. Community members suggested ideas for the street names, and then the band council voted on them. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

Srimani said residents provided ideas for what each road could be called and then council voted on the options — with the chosen names being written on the signs in Dene Zhatie (also known as South Slavey) and English. The house numbers, which Srimani said were designed by local artist Destiny Ekotla, depict a beaver in front of Tthenáágó, the sacred mountain which Nahanni Butte lies at the foot of. 

The shiny new signage went up in April, giving each home in the community its own mailing address that will make it easier for emergency services to respond to emergencies in Nahanni Butte. It will also make it easier for residents to fill out paperwork for things like driver's licences, insurance and utilities.

"On my licence it says 'brown house on the corner," said Vital. Matou said her sister struggled with the address on her licence and made the address "grey house by main road," while Matou's own licence has a lot number followed by the words "general delivery."

Marlene Matou's drivers licence lists her address as 'Lot A2, General Delivery.' She said her sister's licence says 'grey house by main road'. (Submitted by Marlene Matou)

'General delivery'

Nahanni Butte currently gets its mail flown in from Fort Simpson once a week. 

Vital said Canada Post's service has improved recently, but the community has sometimes gone two or three weeks without receiving the mail. Once it arrives, someone has to collect it from the airstrip and bring it to the band office for pickup. 

Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band Chief Steve Vital. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

The new postal code will take effect on Sept. 22, while the post office outlet is expected to open in a corner of the general store sometime that same month. Vital said each community member will have their own dedicated mailbox and key, and Canada Post will hire one full-time employee to manage the space and pick up the community's mail twice a week from a driver who already does a mail run from Fort Simpson to Fort Liard.

Matou said the changes are a "big thing" for her community.

"I think that they should have a grand opening or some kind of celebration for our community, because we get to have our own post office," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liny Lamberink

Reporter/Editor

Liny Lamberink is a reporter for CBC North. She moved to Yellowknife in March 2021, after working as a reporter and newscaster in Ontario for five years. She can be reached at liny.lamberink@cbc.ca

now