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The Department of Information, initially known as Information Services, was organized in Ottawa in May of 1967. The department was re-established in Yellowknife under the direction of E. R. Horton with the transfer of the government in September 1967.

The Department of Information was responsible for informing residents of the Northwest Territories of the policies, programs and activities of the Government of the Northwest Territories, informing the public outside of the Territories about the north, and providing inter-governmental information systems. In addition, it was responsible for meeting the printing, translation, graphic design and publication needs of the Government of the Northwest Territories. By 1969, the Still Photo Library, a component of of the Information Services Department, had catalogued and indexed more than 1100 colour transparencies and 500 black and white negatives.

In 1970, the department was organized into two divisions: Publications and Public Relations. The Publications Division was involved in the research, writing, editing, and designing a variety of government publications, such as the Annual Report and newsletters; its Printing section, later known as the Printing Bureau, handled all Government of the Northwest Territories printing requirements either in-house or through the private sector. In 1979, the head of the Printing Bureau was appointed Territorial Printer and the responsibility for printing all new Northwest Territories ordinances was assumed from the Queen's Printer in 1980.

The Public Relations division, later renamed Public Affairs, was responsible for all public relations functions including press releases, films, slide shows, liaison with the press, escorting dignitaries, translation services and maintaining a photo library. In 1973, an Interpreter-Translator Corps was established within the Public Relations division to meet the needs of communications in the multi-lingual north. The Corps was to provide Dene and Inuit oral interpretation and written translation services for the GNWT, Council of the NWT and other groups and agencies. It also assisted with communications between aboriginal peoples and the government, hospitals, and courts. A radio program production centre was created to provide programming to community stations and prepare government information packages on topics such as the Northwest Territories Council, Home Management and Consumer Affairs. A review of Department of Information functions in 1976 indicated that regionalization of its programs was required. Interpreter-translators in each region became responsible for determining the communication needs within their region and providing programming ideas and materials. The Yellowknife headquarters acted as the service agency for the production of required programs. In 1982, the Interpreter-Translator Corps was reorganized into the Language Bureau to handle the priorities in language and culture activities as set by the Legislative Assembly and the Executive Council. This function was a priority and money was redirected to the Language Bureau from other activities.

Another major initiative of the Department of Information was the Northern Communications Program established in 1978. The program provided the facilities for satellite-fed northern television and radio service to communities. Initially, facilities were provided for communities with populations between 250 and 500 people. These requirements were reduced to communities of 150 people in 1981 and then to communities with populations less than 150 people with an established power supply. By 1986, facilities existed in all qualifying communities. A grant program for operating costs was also offered to local radio stations providing native language programming.

The Department of Information produced a variety of public information brochures on topics such as the Dene, Inuit, canoeing, transportation, climate, flora, and fauna of the Northwest Territories. Poster series promoting the north were produced, as well as "The Traditional Life Series" consisting of prints of Dene and Inuit.

In 1985, the Government of the Northwest Territories consolidated cultural and communications related activities. The newly formed Department of Culture and Communications assumed the functions of the Department of Information.

Corporate body

Gordon Robertson Education Centre (GREC) opened in 1971 as a junior and senior high school and vocational school. In addition to local students from Iqaluit, its enrolment included students from other communities who were housed in Ukkivik Hall, which opened along with GREC and closed in 1996. In the early 1990s, the school was renamed Inuksuk High School.

Corporate body · 1966-2012

Samuel Hearne Secondary School (SHSS) began operating in 1966 and was officially opened two years later by Minister Jean Chretien. Prior to 1966, Inuvik students from all grades attended Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, which continued operating as an elementary school after SHSS opened. The school was originally administered by the federal government; it was transferred to the Government of the Northwest Territories in 1969, and then to the Beaufort-Delta Divisional Education Council, which was established in 1989 to administer regional schools.

The original high school building included two science rooms, a library, industrial arts and home economics facilities and a gym. A 10 classroom addition was completed in 1972, and several trade shops were added in the early 1980s to meet the needs of a vocational certificate program, including an auto shop in 1982, carpentry shop in 1983, and general mechanics shop in 1984.

In addition to residents of the town of Inuvik, the student body at SHSS also included residential school students brought from communities across the Beaufort Delta region and the Arctic to stay at the two major Federal hostels, Stringer Hall (which closed in 1975) and Grollier Hall (which closed in 1996). After the closure of the hostels, students from some small communities continued to attend SHSS for the upper high school grades while boarding in private homes in the town.

SHSS closed in 2012 when it was replaced by the new East Three Secondary School, and the building was demolished in June 2013.

Corporate body · 1977-1988

Galena Heights Elementary School opened in 1977, originally housing pupils from kindergarten to grade two. Galena Heights Elementary School was expanded in 1980 to host students up to grade five after a fire destroyed the other school in the town; the rebuilt Matonabbee School opened in 1981 for the senior grades. Both schools closed in June 1988 with the closure of the mine and community of Pine Point.

Sachs Harbour School
Corporate body · 1968-1973

The Sachs Harbour School was constructed in the summer of 1968, first opening in fall 1968 to students in grades 1-6 and originally operated by the federal government. Prior to the school being built, children were sent to Shingle Point, Aklavik, then Inuvik for schooling, and after its construction, older students continued to go to Inuvik for later grades. This school was transferred to the GNWT when it assumed responsibility for education in 1969, and was replaced by Inualthuyuk School which opened in 1973.

Corporate body · 1867-[1959?]

The provision of western education in Fort Providence began at the Providence Mission School in 1867, sometimes known as “Our Lady of Fort Providence Residential School” but more consistently known as the “Sacred Heart Mission School” or “Sacred Heart Residential School” (“École du Sacré-Coeur” in French). The school was operated by the Grey Nuns and initially was meant to provide a boarding and day school for Hudson Bay Company employee children. It soon focussed on orphaned and needy children and is known as the first residential school in Canada’s north, although other sites of shorter duration possibly predate Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart Residential School took in both day pupils and residential boarders. It was chronically under supported, and the Grey Nuns threatened to close or possibly did close it in 1881/82, and reopened with Federal Government funding later in the 1880s. The original log structure was expanded in 1912, and a new three story school built in 1930. An extension was added to this in 1948.

Students came from communities throughout the north, and even as far south as Fort McMurray and Fond-du-Lac. In later years children came from primarily the Deh Cho region; home communities included Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Wrigley, Norman Wells, Tulita, Ptarmigan Point, Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Trout Rock and Hay River, and sometimes others. It is unclear when the residential school closed, as historical sources give dates ranging from 1953 to 1960, but the Federal Elizabeth Ward Elementary School opened in 1958 and Sacred Heart Residence likely closed in 1959.

Corporate body

The provision of western education in Inuvik began immediately during the community’s construction, with a temporary Federal school in 1956. Several of the attending children came from Aklavik, from where community government officials were strongly encouraging families to relocate. In 1959 a large new regional school opened, officially named Sir Alexander Mackenzie School (SAMS) in 1961. This school housed all grades until Samuel Hearne Secondary School was built in 1966. By that time SAMS had 38 classrooms and capacity for 890 students from grades 1 to 12.

In 1969 all educational facilities in Inuvik were transferred to the Government of the Northwest Territories, who assumed responsibilities for education from the federal government. The Beaufort-Delta Divisional Education Council was established in 1989 to administer regional schools.

In addition to residents of the town of Inuvik, the student body at SAMS for much of its history also included residential school students brought from communities across the Beaufort Delta region and the Arctic to stay at the two major Federal hostels, Stringer Hall (which closed in 1975) and Grollier Hall (which closed in 1996).

SAMS continued to operate as an elementary school until 2012, when it was replaced by the new East Three Elementary School. The SAMS building was demolished in May 2014.

Corporate body

The Norman Wells Federal Day School opened in 1960, and was transferred to the territorial government when it assumed responsibility for education in 1969. The school was originally a one room school located on the river bank, and classes were relocated several times, operating out of portable classrooms through most of the 1970s. It was replaced by the Mackenzie Mountain School, which opened in 1983.

Corporate body

The Fort Norman Federal Day School, also known as the Colin Campbell School, was constructed in 1949 or 1950 in the community now known as Tulita. It initially had two classrooms, with a third added in 1968/69. In 1969 the facility was taken over by the territorial government. Although the school ‘s enrolment consisted of children whose families lived in the community, for a brief period in 1971 there was a small hostel associated with it, to provide a temporary residence for children whose parents were out on the land. The school was replaced by the Chief Albert Wright School, which opened in 1980.

Corporate body

The provision of western education in Nahanni Butte began when evangelist missionaries Mr and Mrs Philip Howard began instructing children in early 1957, without the approval of the Federal government. Summer (tent) school was provided in 1957 and 1958.

A one-room school building was completed around 1959, but the opening of an official Federal Day School was delayed until 1961 due to staffing and housing issues. This school was transferred to the GNWT when it assumed responsibility for education in 1969 and was eventually given the name Charles Yohin School. The school building has been replaced twice, in 1978 and 1985, with both new buildings being constructed by the people of the community.

Corporate body

The Department of Administration was established in October of 1971 with the amalgamation of the Department of Treasury (excepting the functions concerning estimates and forecasts) with the general administrative functions of the Department of the Territorial Secretary and the administrative functions of the Department of Personnel. The Department of Administration provided support services to other government departments, managed the Consolidated Revenue Fund, collected all Territorial revenues and performed related treasury activities.

For most of its existence the Department consisted of four divisions:

  • The Systems and Computer Services division provided data processing services and development of computer systems.
  • The Supply Services division, initially known as Materiel Management, handled purchasing, warehousing and inventory, transportation including sealift and aircraft charters, and management of the supply of petroleum products.
  • The Personnel Services division, initially known as Personnel Administration, carried on the functions which were transferred from the Department of Personnel, including staffing, pay and benefits, staff training, and administration of staff housing.
  • The Finance and Office Services division was formed in 1972 by merging the Administrative Services division, which originated in the Department of the Territorial Secretary, with the Financial Operations division, which came from the Department of Treasury. This division provided accounting and other financial services, records management, and communications services.

A reorganization of the government in 1975 resulted in the responsibilities of the Department of Administration being divided between several other departments, primarily the Department of Personnel and the Department of Finance.

Corporate body

The Northwest Territories Options for Women group was formed in 1976. It was a group established to offer support and address issues pertaining to women such as single parenting, childcare and health care.

Corporate body · 1991-1993

In 1982, a plebiscite was held on the question of dividing the Northwest Territories. With the vote in favour of creating Nunavut, it became apparent that with division, two new governments would be established, one in the east and one in the west. Consequently, the Constitutional Alliance Committee, made up of the Nunavut Constitutional Forum and the Western Constitution Forum was created. The Constitutional Alliance ceased operations in 1990. However, a group of political leaders including MLAs, elected officials and ministers, leaders of the Dene Nation, the Metis Nation, the Gwich'in Regional Council and the Sahtu Regional Council, believed it was important that the Constitutional work continue.

In the spring of 1991, the Committee of Political Leaders, an informal group composed of representatives from the Government of the Northwest Territories and the major Indigenous organizations, gave the Commission for Constitutional Development a mandate to develop a comprehensive constitutional proposal for those regions of the Northwest Territories remaining after the creation of Nunavut for consideration by way of a plebiscite. The Commission was funded by the Government of the Northwest Territories through a contribution agreement.

Commission members included Jim Bourque (Chairperson), Richard Hardy, George Braden, Les Carpenter, Francois Paulette, and Bertha Allen. Four members and chairperson were appointed by the Committee of Political Leaders and one member was appointed by the Western members of the Legislative Assembly.

The Commission for Constitutional Development was Incorporated under the Societies Act in August 1991. Its objectives were: (a) To co-ordinate, manage and direct the financial affairs and organized public activities of its members in the development of a constitution for a government to be created in the western part of the Northwest Territories. (b) To initiate and co-ordinate independent research into topics related to political and constitutional development. (c) To prepare discussion papers and other background materials for dissemination to the public. (d) To solicit opinions and responses from the public and individuals on constitutional and political issues. (e) To prepare proposals for political and constitutional development and to print materials on constitutional issues for the public at large. (f) To initiate and co-ordinate public meetings and discussions on matters of political and constitutional development throughout the western part of the Northwest Territories. (g) To take such further action as the Commission deems appropriate to accomplish its objectives.

The Commission released a discussion paper “How Can We Live Together?” in the fall of 1991, to provide background information and stimulate debate. The first round of community hearings took place during November-December 1991. Funding was provided to interest groups to prepare submissions. The Commission released an interim report in February 1992, summarizing what had been heard so far and outlining ideas and recommendations. The second round of community hearings took place during March-April 1992. The Commission’s final report was released on April 24, 1992 and is known as the "Bourque Report".

No further work was undertaken and by late 1992, the Commission was in the process of wrapping up its affairs and requesting direction from the Committee of Political Leaders. Following a letter of direction from the Chairman of the Western Caucus of the Legislative Assembly, Fred Koe, the Commission made an extraordinary resolution to dissolve the Commission effective March 31, 1993. The work of developing a constitution and governmental structure for the Western part of the Northwest Territory was continued by the Committee of Political Leaders, which was renamed the Constitutional Development Steering Committee and expanded to include the original six Indigenous leaders, the fourteen western MLAs, a representative of women’s organizations, and three representatives of the Association of Western Tax Based Municipalities.

Corporate body

The Dogrib Birchbark Canoe Project, begun in the spring of 1996, was a collaborative effort to build a birchbark canoe in the style of the traditional Tlicho (Dogrib) canoes. The Canoe Project was an extension of a larger effort to complete heritage resource inventories for two Tlicho traditional canoe routes. During the course of the trail inventories, the remains of 30 birchbark canoes were located and recorded, providing an indication of the important role the birchbark canoe played in traversing the Tlicho region. Stakeholders in the project included the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council, the Dogrib Divisional Board of Education, the elders of Gameti (Rae Lakes) and Behchoko (Rae), the Rae/Edzo Friendship Centre and the Archaeology Section of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. The canoe's design was based on a similar birchbark canoe built by Chief Jimmy Bruneau in the late 1960's. All efforts were made to document the process involved, whether on video, audiocassette or on paper. The project involved six elders (Joe and Julie Mackenzie, Paul and Elizabeth Rabesca, Nick and Annie Black) from Behchoko (Rae). Six students from Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchoko (Edzo) participated as well. Tom Andrews, Subarctic Archaeologist at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, coordinated the project from Yellowknife. Don Gardner, a professional canoe builder from Calgary assisted with the project. With the help of the "Canada-Northwest Territories Co-operation Agreement for Aboriginal and Official Languages Program" administered by Parks Canada, broadcast-quality videocassettes of the first feature-length birchbark canoe production were completed in early 1997.