YELLOWKNIFE (June 20, 2013) – On June 21, 2013 the Government of the Northwest Territories will officially recognize 414 traditional Gwich’in geographical, or place, names reflecting their land use across the Gwich’in Settlement Area of the NWT.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, many traditional place names fell into disuse or were replaced by colonial names for rivers, lakes, mountains and settlements. Through the efforts of the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute working closely with Gwich’in Elders between 1992 and 2012, these names have been restored to reflect the Gwich’in heritage and culture.
“We are very pleased to see these names recognized in our official records,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty. “Our efforts in language revitalization and preservation, providing opportunities for cultural projects and artisans across the North, and educating our youth on the importance of their heritage are all part of our identity as Northerners. The Gwich’in language is one of the most endangered Aboriginal languages in all of Canada, so every initiative promoting its use is of paramount importance.”
The NWT Cultural Places Program at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is responsible for geographical names of features and places in the NWT. The Program coordinates official recognition for place name changes, placing special emphasis on the recognition of Aboriginal language place names as directed by the NWT Geographical and Community Names Policy.
The Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute has also installed an exhibit at the Museum featuring the new place names and their cultural and historical significance, open to the public on June 22, 2013.
Public Affairs Officer
Education, Culture and Employment
Phone: (867) 920-3059