13 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Northwest Territories

Written by Chloë Ernst Updated Sep 13, 2021

Almost six times the size of the United Kingdom, the Northwest Territories cover an immense tract of Canada that lies north of the 60th parallel and almost reaches the North Pole. This is the land of towering mountains, mighty rivers, and treeless tundra. It's a harsh land, but one that will make an everlasting impression on you long after your visit. This vast region extends from the high Mackenzie Mountains in the west to the tundra regions of the east (and the border with Nunavut Territory, established in 1999).

During the short summer, which lasts only a few weeks, the region bursts into a frenetic growth spurt with plants and animals (and humans) making the most of every warm day. Fortunately, this undertaking of doing as much as you can in the shortest period of time is aided by the fact that the sun barely sets. These extra long days have given the region its nickname, the "land of the midnight sun." Conversely, in winter it remains dark virtually around the clock, the so-called "polar night." Winter temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius are recorded in virtually all parts of the territories for days and sometimes weeks on end.

To help you get the most out of your visit to this beautiful part of Canada, refer to our list of the top tourist attractions in the Northwest Territories.

1. Nahanni National Park Reserve

2. wood buffalo national park, 3. yellowknife, 4. great slave lake, 5. hay river, 7. the northwest passage, 8. great bear lake, 9. mackenzie river, 10. victoria island, 11. banks island, 12. church of our lady of good hope, fort good hope, 13. norman wells historical centre, norman wells, map of tourist attractions in the northwest territories.

Nahanni National Park Reserve

The remote Nahanni National Park Reserve is one of the treasures of northern Canada and one of the best places to visit in the Northwest Territories for outdoor adventurers. Here, the raging Nahanni River flows through the stunning canyon scenery of the Mackenzie Mountains, challenging experienced canoeists and rafters. The South Nahanni River also tumbles over the 90-meter precipice of spectacular Virginia Falls , creating one of the most impressive waterfalls in Canada.

The Rabbitkettle Hot Springs , which give life to a rich landscape of rare plants, are another sightseeing attraction in this immense national park. As tempting as it would be to take a dip in the hot springs, the fragile nature of this beautiful natural attraction means tourists can only visit as part of a guided tour.

  • Read More: Exploring Nahanni National Park Reserve: A Visitor's Guide

Wood buffalo

Wood Buffalo National Park is the biggest national park in Canada, and the second largest on the planet. This UNESCO World Heritage Site encompasses vast tracts of land in both Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

While the park was originally intended to protect the herds of wood buffalo that inhabit the area, it has also served as a safe haven for other important species, such as the extremely rare whooping cranes that nest in the delta region. Once a fur-trading post, Fort Smith is now the launching point for exploring the park, and bison are often spotted from the highway near town.

  • Read More: Exploring Wood Buffalo National Park and Fort Smith


Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories, grew up around a 1930s gold rush. While all of the miners tents of Old Town have long since been replaced, there is now a mix of wooden heritage buildings, arts and cultural institutions like the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre , and a bustling community life fueled by the mining industry.

Popular things to do are the boat tours and houseboating on Great Slave Lake . Other activities and attractions are the impressive falls at Hidden Lake Territorial Park , visiting galleries featuring local artists, and seeing the Bush Pilots Monument.

If you find yourself here in the winter, the stunning Aurora Borealis viewing that can be enjoyed here is second to none. The Snow King Festival and its huge snow castle is also something not to be missed. Don't be afraid to join in the fun, as the town lets loose in March.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Yellowknife

Great Slave Lake

Great Slave Lake is North America's fifth largest lake and reaches depths of more than 600 meters in places. Though it's frozen for eight months of the year, it sees plenty of action. In summer, house boaters and sailors enjoy the freshwater. In fact, the lake is home to the Commissioner's Cup, the world's longest freshwater sailing race .

If you love to fish, don't miss the opportunity to head out onto the water and test your skills against one of the legendary giant trout, (some up to 40 pounds) lurking deep below. Bring your own boat and take your chances or take a charter and ensure success.

Come winter, dog sledders race on the frozen surface. Many of the major communities in the Northwest Territories front the lake, including Yellowknife , Fort Providence , and Hay River .

  • Read More: Great Slave Lake: Top Things to Do

Alexandra Falls in Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park near Hay River

On the southern bank of Great Slave Lake, Hay River is the southernmost port on the Mackenzie River System. Here, freight (mainly building materials and fuel) destined for settlements along the Mackenzie River and in the Arctic is transferred to barges. During the four- to five-month summer season, the port is chock-a-block with barges, fishing boats, and coast guard launches.

Long a home to First Nations people, Hay River became the first Hudson's Bay Company trading post in the area in 1868. The little wooden houses of the old town lie at the mouth of the Hay River. This is also where the fishermen live, often returning home with rich catches from Great Slave Lake , or the Hay and Mackenzie rivers.

In the newer area of town, Diamond Jenness School is an outstanding example of northern architecture. Named after an anthropologist who, around 1910, was the first to study northern native culture, the school boasts a purple color that makes it the landmark of Hay River. Southwest of town, Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park features Hay River canyon and the Alexandra and Louise Falls, with trails and a viewing area.

Famous igloo-shaped church

"Place of Man" is the Inuit meaning of Inuvik, a modern settlement in the Arctic Circle and on the Mackenzie River. Built between 1955 and 1961 during the exploration for oil and gas, it replaced Aklavik, which was prone to flooding.

Today, Inuvik is the trading, administrative, and supply center for the western Arctic. It has an airfield, several schools, and a hospital. From here, the many supply planes set off for the exploration bases in the far north to destinations such as the Mackenzie delta and Beaufort Sea. Sightseeing flights over the Arctic also take off from here.

Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church, with its distinctive igloo shape, has become a landmark building of Inuvik. It contains a tabernacle (also igloo-shaped) and a remarkable "Way of the Cross" by Inuit artist Mona Thrasher. Aklavik , Inuit for "home of the polar bears" is west of Inuvik. The Hudson's Bay Company founded it in 1912 in the middle of the Mackenzie delta, an area prone to flooding. It is only accessible by a winter ice road.

Tuktut Nogait National Park, to the east of Inuvik was established in 1996, boasting some truly overwhelming arctic rock scenery with spectacular canyons and cliffs. Finds made at literally dozens of archaeological sites within the conservation area show that this now-inhospitable region was inhabited thousands of years ago. Access to the park is by air only, but well worth it if you can make it happen.

Icebreakers in the Franklin Straight, Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage provides waterway access from the Atlantic Ocean through the Arctic to the Pacific Ocean. The search for the Northwest Passage began in the 16th century by Dutch and English navigators who hoped to find a favorable sea route for trade with the Far East and thus circumvent the Portuguese monopoly on trade round the Horn of Africa.

Martin Frobisher made the first attempt in 1576. He assumed that since saltwater never froze, this could not be the legendary sea of ice but just a frozen lake. In 1585-87 John Davis penetrated through the strait (later to bear his name) as far as Baffin Bay. Henry Hudson was looking for the Northwest Passage when he discovered Hudson Bay in 1609/1610. In 1616, William Baffin got as far as Lancaster Sound, but since he concluded that the Northwest Passage simply did not exist, there was no more exploration for another 200 years.

It was 1818 before John Ross resumed the search at the head of an English expedition, although the motive this time was scientific rather than commercial. In 1829, he discovered the magnetic north pole on the Boothia-Felix Peninsula.

The doomed expedition of John Franklin followed in 1845. After last being seen in July of that year in the Lancaster Sound, the members of the expedition were finally found dead on King Williams Island. They had succeeded in exploring much of the Arctic coast of North America.

McClure was the first, in 1850 to 1853, to be able to trace the passage on foot, coming over the iced up straits from the west. But the first person to finally manage to navigate the Northwest Passage from east to west was actually Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian polar explorer in 1900-03.

A large Arctic char

The eighth largest lake in the world, Great Bear Lake is 240 kilometers long and 400 kilometers across. It is covered with ice for eight months of the year, often as late as July. Its Great Bear River flows into the Mackenzie River. The shores of Great Bear Lake are rich in wildlife, with martens being particularly numerous. Grizzly bears roam the shores in summer, and the pinewoods are the haunt of elk in winter.

Great Bear Lake has achieved more angling records than any other lake in North America. It is especially famous for its trout, and some of the world's biggest (weighing up to 65 pounds) have been caught here, as well as top-weight grayling and whitefish. Arctic char can be found in the nearby Tree River. For a fishing tour of Great Bear Lake, hire a guide in Fort Franklin, now known as Deline.

The Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories

With a length of 4,250 kilometers, the Mackenzie River is the second longest river in North America, and its catchment area covers a fifth of Canada. The river was already an important artery for the canoes of the fur trade in the 18th century, and is navigable today in summer by steamers as far upriver as Fort Smith .

The Mackenzie Highway was built shortly after the Second World War and is an all-weather road covering the 600 kilometers from Peace River in Alberta to Great Slave Lake and the territorial capital Yellowknife .

Fort Simpson is situated where the Liard runs into the Mackenzie River, west of Great Slave Lake. It is the oldest settlement on the Mackenzie River, founded by the North West Company in 1804 for the trans-shipment of skins and furs at this strategic junction. In the 19th century, trade came from the few trappers and fishermen who lived here from time to time, but in the first half of the 20th century the forests in the Mackenzie Valley attracted the attention of the paper industry.

This was followed by the discovery of oil at Norman Wells in the 1920s, pitchblende at Port Radium, and gold at Yellowknife in the 1930s, with mining becoming a thriving industry after the Second World War. It is possible to catch planes from Fort Simpson to Nahanni National Park Reserve .

The vegetation of this delta landscape is mostly low bushes and shrubs, juniper, lichens, and mosses, with magnificent displays of color from flowers and mosses during the brief but intensive summer (from June to late July this is the land of the midnight sun). To complete the picture, this very special environment also has a great variety of wildlife on water as well as on land.

The west side of Victoria Island on the Amundsen Gulf

Situated directly off the northern coast of mainland Canada, Victoria Island is the third largest island in the Canadian Archipelago. It lies well north of the Arctic Circle, where Ice-Age glaciers flattened everything into a rather monotonous terrain of moraines, drumlins, and glacial lakes. The creation of the new Territory of Nunavut in 1999 divided the island administratively into two.

Canada's central Arctic region is administered and supplied from Iqaluktuutiak (Cambridge Bay) on the island's southeast coast. Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) "discovered" Victoria Island in 1826, and European seafarers searching for the Northwest Passage, missionaries, and fur traders were among the earliest to call in at this remote spot. Until the 1950s, the Copper Inuit used the area mainly as a summer camp; "Iqaluktuutiak," as it was called in Inuktitut, meaning "good place to fish."

Victoria Island

Iqaluktuutiak's main modern features are its stone-built Catholic church and modern wind-generation plant. The second place of any significance on Victoria Island is Ulukhaktok (formerly Holman) on the west coast. Located at the tip of the Diamond Jenness Peninsula , this small community is already quite well prepared for the burgeoning numbers of tourists attracted to the North. There is even a golf course with views of the Beaufort Sea.

Banks Island

Banks Island possesses rich tundra vegetation and is home to many animals, especially the more than 65,000 musk-oxen (Ovibus moschatus), the largest population anywhere in the world. The southwestern part of Banks Island, equal to about one-third of the whole land mass, is a bird sanctuary.

Although it had been used for hunting for perhaps 3,500 years, it was not until 1929 that Banks Island had a permanent settlement, when three Inuit families put down roots in Ikaahuk (Sachs Harbor) on the northwestern tip of the island. Its "European" name derives from the Canadian Arctic expedition of 1913-15 led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, whose ship was called Mary Sachs .

Situated in the north of Banks Island, Aulavik National Park is home to numerous musk-oxen. During the summer months, it is also home to a large proportion of Canada's snow geese. A completely intact tundra flora is still to be found here. This extremely remote park attracts adventurers looking to hike, backpack, or paddle the Thomsen River.

There are no services in Aulavik National Park, so visitors are expected to be experienced in the outdoors and self-sufficient. Visitors get to the park by chartering aircraft, usually from Inuvik.

Church of Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Good Hope

The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope in Fort Hope is a national historic site that was built in the mid 1880s. It is one of the oldest surviving buildings of this type with much of the spectacular interior decoration designed and carried out by Father Émile Petitot. The mission church was built in the Gothic Revival Style.

Around the left side of the church is a historical graveyard with interesting headstones, some dating from the turn of the century.

The Norman Wells Historical Centre is within twenty minutes drive of McKinnon Territorial Park. The center offers detailed information about the history of the area and the current condition of the CANOL Trail , including shipping and transportation on the Mackenzie River. Artifacts and photographs depict Dene history. Two highlights include a replica log cabin decorated in traditional Dene style and a salvaged WWII Quonset hut, which is now used for movie screenings.

The historical center also has extensive displays related to the industries of the region, including mining, oilfields, and aviation among others.

Official site:

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Exploring Canada's North : Canada's north is a vast region and encompasses many excellent things to do. Topping our list is visiting Nunavut , a vast region encompassing 1.9 million square kilometers (a fifth of the country) and home to vast stretches of treeless tundra and dramatic fiords. Begin your adventures in the gold rush city of Whitehorse , a great base from which to experience attractions such as the sternwheeler, the SS Klondike , and magnificent Miles Canyon. Farther to the east is Hudson Bay , an area famed for its stunning scenery and wildlife, including polar bears.

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The Best Things To Do In Northwest Territories

October 20, 2020 By Matthew G. Bailey 13 Comments

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Traditional Inuit clothing in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT

Updated: January 18, 2021

With more than one million square kilometres of land area and a population of less than 50,000, the Northwest Territories are about as wild as it gets. It’s certainly not an easy area to visit (many places are fly-in, many roads are gravel, and distances are vast) but for those who make the effort, there are some incredible places to see and things to do in Northwest Territories.

Whether you’re looking to drive Canada’s only highway to the arctic ocean, fly over the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, sleep at a secluded fishing lodge, admire the Northern Lights, or visit some charming northern towns like Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk , the Northwest Territories is an adventurer’s paradise.

We also learned many new things, including:

  • Nahanni National Park (and L’Anse aux Meadows) was the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The new highway to Tuktoyaktuk is the first Canadian highway to reach the Arctic Ocean.
  • Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park is almost twice the height of Niagara Falls .
  • NWT is home to two of the largest freshwater lakes (Great Slave Lake and Great Bear) and river systems (Mackenzie River) in North America.
  • North of the Arctic Circle, the “Midnight Sun” arrives in May and doesn’t depart until the end of July. Cool, eh!?

Table of Contents

Getting to the Northwest Territories

Although the Northwest Territories is part of Canada’s far north, there are a number of highways linking it up with the Yukon , British Columbia , and Alberta . The main options for getting there would be to drive or to fly.

However, due to the immense wilderness and isolation of the territory, some parts are divided. For example, if you’d like to drive from Yellowknife to Tuktoyaktuk, you’d have to drive through Northern BC and the Yukon, taking approximately 48 hours of drive time to get there!

Getting to the Northwest Territories by Car

If you’d like to take a road trip or get into some real adventure in the NWT, you’ll need your own car. In fact, you’d be better off with an SUV or a truck. The highway you take to the Northwest Territories will depend on where you’re coming from or where you want to go. For example, the distance between Edmonton and Yellowknife is 1,452 kilometres.

It’s a pretty straightforward drive, as you’d take highway 88 and 35 north for about 16 hours. You’ll pass numerous towns on the way, but when it comes to the NWT, you’ll want to be a little more cautious about drive times, as gas stations are more spread out than they are in Canada’s south.

If you’d like to drive to Canada’s arctic ocean, you’ll have to go through the Yukon, taking the Dempster Highway from Dawson City up to Inuvik. From there, you’d then drive another two hours north to Tukotyaktuk. If you’re hoping to explore both regions, expect to be in the vehicle for long periods of time.

Getting to the Northwest Territories by Plane

For maximum efficiency, you’ll want to take flights to the Northwest Territories. Car rentals are possible, so you could always rent a car and explore it from your home base. Most people visit Yellowknife, the territory’s capital city, or Inuvik, which is much farther north and only hours from Tuktoyaktuk and the arctic ocean.

However, since the area is home to many isolated communities and mines, there are a vast number of tiny airports in the Northwest Territories. Flights are limited, so you really want to know where you’re going. For example, if your objective is to simply explore Nahanni National Park Reserve, you’d want to fly into Fort Simpson and take a sightseeing tour from there.

Popular airports include:

  • Yellowknife Airport (YZF)
  • Inuvik Mike Zubko (YEV)
  • Hay River Merlyn Carter Airport (YHY)
  • Fort Simpson Airport (YFS)

best things to do in canada

Best Time to Visit the Northwest Territories

Unless you’re planning to do something specific in the wintertime like drive the ice road or admire the Aurora Borealis, the best time to visit the Northwest Territories would be in the summer, late spring, or early fall.

Considering its location in Canada, the Northwest Territories is home to some extreme weather and very cold winters. For road trips, you would really want to travel in the summer months when highways are in their best condition. Also, popular activities like watersports, fishing, hunting, and camping, are all done in the warmer months.

However, like most of Canada, the NWT is home to some awesome winter activities as well, such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, northern lights viewing, and more. Therefore, your time of visit should depend on what you’re hoping to accomplish.

If you do visit during the winter months, make sure you check out our article about what to wear during the winter in Canada .

Road to 150 – Northwest Territories Episode

Back in 2017, we produced a travel series called the Road to 150 . Celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, we drove across the country for 150 days, visiting each and every province and territory to experience the best things to do.

The Northwest Territories was our 9th stop during the trip, arriving via Alberta and spending approximately two weeks exploring places like Yellowknife, Nahanni National Park, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk. It’s the only territory that had its time divided because we had to drive through the Yukon to get to the upper half of it.

During our time there, we visited many beautiful waterfalls, took a floatplane to a secluded lodge nestled between two lakes, learned about the First Nations Peoples at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, took a spectacular trip over Nahanni National Park Reserve, and drove all the way up to  Tuktoyaktuk where we jumped into the Arctic Ocean.

We also toured Inuvik, took a boat tour through the narrow channels of the Mackenzie Delta, and saw heaps of wildlife, including beavers, bears and bison. We packed a lot of adventures into our short visit and can’t wait to return one day and explore the territory further.

Best Places to Visit in Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories are far more spread out than other provinces in Canada and so unless you’re planning on doing an extensive road trip, you’ll need to better plan what you want to do and where you’re going. To help you decide, we’ll list out some of the best things to do in the Northwest Territories below, divided into the most popular regions.

best things to do in the northwest territories

Yellowknife Attractions

Perhaps the most popular destination is the capital city of Yellowknife. Here you’ll find a variety of accommodation, shops, and amenities, as well as floatplanes ready to take you where you need to go. There’s a lot of cool modern architecture to check out and amazing views from Bush Pilot’s Monument. Yellowknife is also the perfect base for a night tour to experience the Aurora Borealis .

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

Thanks to its exhibits and artifacts dedicated to the cultures and history of the NWT, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre has become the top attraction in Yellowknife. The museum displays and preserves important documents, photos, sound recordings, artifacts, and other materials related to the history of this vast northern region.

You’ll learn about the minerals that are mined all around the territory as well as explore the culture of the Dene First Nations people and the pervasive influence of the fur trade. If you’re interested in learning about the place you’re exploring, make this a priority when visiting Yellowknife.

Cameron Falls Trail

Yellowknife 4914710 1280 1

Flightseeing Tours

Yellowknife and the surrounding area are one of those places that are best seen from above. Luckily, there are a number of operators offering flightseeing tours in floatplanes, and this makes for an excellent way to see the beauty of the area and get some incredible photos.

However, there’s another reason floatplanes are so popular in this area. Aside from flightseeing tours, they also take people to remote lodges for isolated fishing and hunting opportunities.

Old Town Yellowknife

Yellowknife is somewhat divided into a new town and an old town. As you may have guessed, the old town is where all the history is. With the discovery of gold in 1934 and Yellowknife’s first gold rush the following year, eager miners built their camps on the shores of Great Slave Lake.

These days, you’ll find some of those old heritage buildings in Old Town Yellowknife, as well as the popular Ragged Ass Road where you’ll find a good view of the city from “the Rock”, which is also known as Bush Pilot’s Monument.

Fishing in the Northwest Territories, Canada.

Yellow Dog Lodge

Words can barely describe how awesome our stay was at Yellow Dog Lodge . It’s a beautiful Northwest Territories hotel, nestled between two secluded lakes, just a 15-minute flight from Yellowknife. When we were there, it was just us and the incredible staff.

They brought us around both lakes by boat, helped us catch lake trout and northern pike, made campfires for us on secluded islands, prepared a hot tub heated by wood fire, and cooked us delicious meals three times per day. As if that’s not perfect enough, there’s also a floating raft that you can spend a night on.

They parked it in a secluded bay and we were surrounded by complete silence. The only thing we could hear was our echo bouncing off the thick forest all around us. We made a wood fire on the barge and woke up to an eagle flying overhead. Simply incredible.

Alternatively, you could take a special week-long kayak trip , to see the sites and experience the Yellowstone area to the fullest.

Where to Eat?

Bullocks’ Bistro: If a restaurant can also be an attraction, this is it. We came in expecting fish n’ chips and left with a full tummy of grilled Arctic Char, fried halibut, curry seafood chowder, and caribou! It was incredibly delicious and the place has so much character. This is the most famous restaurant in Yellowknife and a must-visit when you’re here. Look for our Must Do Canada business card on the wall.

Things To Do In Hay River

Hay River, NWT is not a typical town for most tourists visiting the NWT but it’s just a 30-minute drive from Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park, which is home to two of the best waterfalls in the Northwest Territories. It’s also a great place to rest if you’re on the way to Yellowknife or Fort Simpson and is the first town you’ll see if you’re entering from Alberta.

Standing next to Alexandra Falls, Northwest Territories, Canada.

Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park

Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park is home to both Alexandra Falls and Louise Falls, two of the most popular and spectacular waterfalls in the Northwest Territories. Both are incredible to see and you can get super close to Alexandra Falls if you’re looking for that classic adventure photograph.

Camping is also permitted in the park and you’ll also find the 8-kilometre Twin Falls Gorge Trail that follows the canyon rim through the forest for more stunning views. You can hike the trail yourself, or sign up for an interpretive walk with a local Dene storyteller and tour guide.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Did you know that Hay River is home to the largest shipping centre in the north? That’s right. The town resembles a seaport in many ways as it’s home to tugs, barges and commercial fishing operations. However, if you’re in Hay River on a Saturday, another popular thing to do is visit Fisherman’s Wharf for their outdoor market. This is a great chance to buy some fresh-caught fish, produce, baked goods, and local arts and crafts.

Visit the Beach

Spending time on a beach is probably the last thing you imagined while visiting Canada’s Northwest Territories but Hay River actually has the best beach in the north with miles of sand dunes stretching out along massive Great Slave Lake. On a hot summer day, it’s a great place to spend the day and is also a good spot for camping.

Where to Stay?

Ptarmigan Inn: This is the best place to stay in the town. It’s clean, comfortable, and has a variety of amenities, including a restaurant, pub, bank, a real full-size fitness centre, and a place to get a haircut. They also have a really massive and delicious breakfast that we truly looked forward to each and every morning. Highly recommended!

Flight-seeing tour over Nahanni National Park, Canada.

Things To Do Around Fort Simpson

Known as the base for exploring Nahanni National Park, that’s what most tourists come here for. However, there’s more than just the park, so we’ll give you some ideas of what to do below.

Nahanni National Park

This renowned park absolutely blew us away. In fact, the beauty and vastness of the park is hard to describe in words. Some describe Nahanni National Park as a combination of Jasper National Park , Banff National Park, the Columbia Icefields, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Niagara Falls all in one.

Sounds pretty incredible, eh? It’s not quite as large as the huge Wood Buffalo National Park, but it remains absolutely mind-blowing. If you’d like to visit, the best way to do so is with Simpson Air, which we’ll talk about below.

Simpson Air

There are basically two ways to see the park and Nahanni River. You can take a multi-week, very expensive canoe trip or you can take a 5-hour+ scenic flight tour with Simpson Air . We were so blown away by the beauty we witnessed from the air, and the owner, Ted, was a great person to guide us around.

After all, he’s been doing this for over 30 years! He’s full of stories and he’s incredibly passionate about what he does. This is an outstanding park and quite possibly the most diverse park in Canada. Add this to your Canadian bucket list for sure!

Fort Simpson Territorial Park

Located in the community of Fort Simpson at the confluence of the Mackenzie river and Liard river, this park is within walking distance to town and its amenities. It’s a popular spot for bird-watching and listening to the sounds of northern frogs.

Many different species of birds have been found here and it’s also popular with migratory waterfowl such as tundra swans and snow geese. It also links up with some of the historical sites in the area, is home to a golf course and is a good spot for camping.

MacPherson House

Built back in 1936, this one-and-a-half storey squared-log dwelling is an excellent example of Metis architecture and is located at the southern edge of the original Hudson’s Bay Company compound and is an icon of the fur-trade heritage of the community.

Ehdaa Historical Site

This National Historic Site of Canada, which is located at the southwestern end of Fort Simpson Island, is a traditional Dene meeting place. Here they would allocate land use, arrange marriages, resolve disputes, hold puberty rites, undertake ceremonies of healing and thanksgiving, and trade goods and knowledge. The site remains important to the local Liidlii Kue Dene and contains facilities built for the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II.

Janor Guest House: This lovely guesthouse might be one of the best we’ve stayed in. The rooms were very comfortable, the place was super clean, and everything was so well organized.

Basically, you make your own breakfast but everything is provided. They provided eggs, bread, cereal, yogurt, coffee, and more. The owners are friendly and the WiFi is good.

Alternatively, the Bannockland Inn is another great option.

things to do in inuvik

Inuvik Northwest Territories Tourist Attractions

Located at the end of the Dempster Highway, Inuvik is a regional hub for the Arctic region of NWT. Here you’ll find a vibrant mix of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and non-Native residents, all gathered in a town near the beautiful Mackenzie mountains.

Western Arctic Visitor Centre

Our short tour here provided us with so much history and knowledge about the area. The staff were so friendly and proud to share their culture with us. There’s a variety of exhibits about art, flora and fauna, neighbouring communities and wildlife. You can also pick up your official Arctic Circle Adventurer Certificate here, making it a great place to stop before exploring further.

Igloo Church

Quite possibly one of the North’s most photographed structures, the Our Lady of Victory Church is a bleach-white cylinder capped by a silvery dome, imitating the Inuvialuit snow-houses of old. It’s quite small but when inside, you’ll find paintings by local artist Mona Thrasher. This is one of the most popular attractions in Inuvik. I mean, where else can you find an igloo church!

Western Arctic Visitor Centre, Inuvik, Canada.

Community Greenhouse

One thing we didn’t expect to see in Inuvik was a greenhouse, especially the largest of its kind in the world with over 16,000 square feet of space in an old hockey arena. Scheduled tours are available from June-September and we loved learning about how and why it got started and how it’s helping the community. It made us want to start our own greenhouse one day.

Midnight Sun Mosque

Alan Emery VBzR91wRcP0 Unsplash 1

Explore the Mackenzie Delta

Considering Inuvik’s location alongside the magnificent Mackenzie Delta, there’s no better way to experience the natural beauty of the area than a boat tour (or flight-seeing tour) around these narrow waterways.

We took a tour with Tundra North Tours, taking us out on his boat for some fishing. Along the way, we saw beavers making a dam and a flock of arctic swans frolicking in a nearby lake. It’s one of the most beautiful drone shots we got for our Road to 150 videos (see near the top of this article). During our boat ride back to town, we had a big bald eagle show up and lead the way. Beautiful.

Want more? Check out our full guide to things to do in Inuvik !

Alistine’s Restaurant: If you only visit one restaurant in Inuvik, make it this one. It’s such a fun-looking restaurant with the kitchen inside an old school bus. There’s also a rooftop patio for sunny days. We actually came here twice as we couldn’t get enough of the delicious fish tacos!

MacKenzie Delta Hotel: This was one of the best hotels we stayed at during our trip and a breath of fresh air after a long drive on the Dempster Highway. We had huge spacious rooms, great WiFi, and even a sink, fridge, and microwave. The hotel is beautiful and there’s also a popular restaurant and pub on-site. It’s also located in the heart of town, right across from the Igloo Church.

best things to do in tuktoyaktuk

Tuktoyaktuk Northwest Territories Activities

Located right on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, Tuktoyaktuk is almost as far North as it gets. Once accessible only by plane, boat, and ice road, the new Mackenzie Valley Highway now offers Canada’s only road to the Arctic!

We were granted special permission to drive the new highway before it was open but due to weather, we had to drive up and down on the same day, giving us only 3-4 hours in the small hamlet. Luckily, we took a tour with a local elder, which gave us some good insight into the culture and of course, we jumped in the Arctic Ocean! As of late 2017, the road is now open to the public, making it one of Canada’s great adventures and a fantastic Northwest Territories road trip.

Admire the Pingo Canadian Landmark

In terms of natural attractions, our favourite thing about Tuktoyaktuk was the Pingos! Approximately 1350 pingos (ice-cored hills) dot the coastline around Tuktoyaktuk, with the largest one standing a whopping 16-stories high!

The Pingo Canadian Landmark is a natural area protecting eight of these pingos, all of which are remarkable to see. For many centuries, pingos were used as navigation points for the Inuvialuit people. What’s a pingo you ask? Good question. Pingos originate in drained lakes where the groundwater seeps below the frozen surface, forcing it upwards. Some are growing at a rate of two centimetres per year!

There’s one pingo in town you can hike up for views of Tuk, but there are also tours available from the community, including the chance to see the interior of a pingo, which has been hollowed out into storage lockers for frozen game through the summer.

pingos in tuktoyaktuk northwest territories

Jump in the Arctic Ocean!

You can’t come all the way to Tuktoyaktuk and not take an arctic dip! Before you do, however, please note that this area is home to polar bears and it might be wise to ask some locals first, just to make sure there are none in the area.

We did the dip twice. First, we found a place where the water is about 4 feet deep just offshore, allowing us to do a quick dip right away. Another time, we found a beach that starts at just a couple of inches of depth. This is more for people looking to dip their toes, although you could continue walking out until it gets deeper.

The Tuktoyaktuk Sign

It’s not often we recommend getting a photo with the town’s welcome sign, but Tuktoyaktuk is just too unique of a place not to do so. It makes for a great photo opportunity to share with your friends.

Joanne’s Taxi and Tours

Not only does Joanne run a taxi business but they also offer local tours around the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk. It’s a great way to learn about the area, try some local food, climb a pingo, and step into the Arctic Ocean. They were so friendly and we can’t wait to return and learn more from them.

Want more? Check out our full guide to things to do in Tuktoyaktuk !

Driving the Dempster Highway Highway

Exploring the Fun Things to do in Northwest Territories

We were so excited to explore this off-the-beaten-path territory and it did not disappoint! We got to fly to a beautiful lodge on a secluded lake, stand next to amazing waterfalls, drive to the Western Canadian Arctic, and fly over one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. There’s just so much WILDerness to see in the NWT and we can’t wait to return one day and explore further.

For more things to do in the area, check out the following articles…

  • Things to Do in the Yukon
  • Sailing with Adventure Canada to Nunavut
  • Things to Do in British Columbia
  • Things to Do in Alberta


Best Things to Do in the Northwest Territories

About Matthew G. Bailey

Matthew G. Bailey is the founder and editor-in-chief of Must Do Canada. Growing up in Alberta to a mother from Quebec and a father from Newfoundland, Matt spent his childhood playing hockey under the Northern Lights and hanging out in the forest before moving to Calgary and travelling to more than 250 cities spanning 42 countries and 6 continents. He loves travel, learning new things, playing sports, writing, making videos, photography, and scuba diving. You can also find him at .

Reader Interactions

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May 11, 2021 at 7:13 am

My wife and I would love to visit these places in the future. Reading your article makes us want to go sooner.😀

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May 12, 2021 at 8:05 am

My cousin lives in Yellowknife so have been able to visit her a couple of times. Experienced daylight at 3am (June) and the beautiful amazing northern lights (September).

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May 12, 2021 at 9:48 am

haha isn’t it crazy

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May 12, 2021 at 2:16 pm

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May 12, 2021 at 8:23 pm

My daughter lives there so each time I go we find a new adventure.

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June 10, 2021 at 7:29 am

On my bucket list and thank you for the ideas.

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December 8, 2021 at 10:20 pm

Visit Inuvik in January and take in the Return of the Sun festivities.

Best northern lights views too on the Inuvik to Tuk Highway and on the ice road to Aklavik.

December 9, 2021 at 7:57 am

wow, that sounds amazing!

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March 12, 2022 at 5:18 am

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May 27, 2022 at 8:11 pm

Watch out for bison on the highway if you’re driving from Alberta to Yellowknife. Especially at night.

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May 28, 2022 at 1:27 pm

Will be using this info (and other articles) next summer when we do a Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Anchorage driving trip from Edmonton and back.

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June 8, 2022 at 10:00 am

Was born and raised in the NWT but still so much of the Territory I haven’t seen yet. Thanks for sharing

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September 3, 2022 at 10:10 pm

NWT is on my bucketlist

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The Richardson Mountains, Northwest Territories, Canada

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Northwest Territories

On a planet containing seven billion people, it's difficult to imagine that there are still places as sparsely populated as the Northwest Territories (NWT). A vast swath of boreal forest and Arctic tundra five times the size of the UK, it has a population of a small provincial town. In the 19th century, gold prospectors passed it over as too remote; modern Canadians, if they head north at all, prefer to romanticize about iconic Nunavut or the grandiose Yukon. More people orbit the earth each year than visit lonely Aulavik, one of the territory's four national parks.


Must-see attractions.

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Nahanni National Park Reserve

A place of unparalleled natural beauty in the southwestern NWT near the Yukon border, this 30,000-sq-km, Unesco World Heritage national park is bisected…

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Virginia Falls

Yes, there is a higher set of falls in British Columbia, but for the sheer gushing power of two mighty torrents of water, falling from a height of 96m …

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park

Established in 1922 to protect a large, dark and distinctly Northern subspecies of bison, and straddling the Alberta–NWT border, is Wood Buffalo National…

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre


Acting as NWT's historical and cultural archive, this well-laid-out museum overlooks Frame Lake. Expertly assembled displays address natural history,…

Aulavik National Park

Aulavik National Park

This seldom-visited park has the world's largest concentration of musk ox, as well as tundra and archaeological sites. This is true Arctic wilderness,…

Pingo Canadian Landmark

Pingo Canadian Landmark

The Tuk Peninsula has the world's highest concentration of pingos. Some 1350 of these huge mounds of earth-covered ice, that form only in a permafrost…

Great Slave Lake

Great Slave Lake

Yellowknife sits on the shores of Great Slave Lake – the 10th largest lake in the world and the deepest in North America. It takes its name from the…

Pelican Rapids

Pelican Rapids

Twelve kilometers south of Fort Smith, an old road leads east towards the river, with a footpath dipping down to a creek and ascending a bluff overlooking…

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Latest stories from Northwest Territories

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Jan 22, 2020 • 5 min read

Canada is synonymous with canoes. These open boats shaped the nation's history, and now they allow modern-day adventurers to explore remote and wild areas.

A massive herd of reindeer stretches to the horizon, with a solitary snowmobiler in the foreground watching them in the Northwest Territories.

Apr 25, 2019 • 6 min read

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Nov 15, 2017 • 2 min read

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Jun 1, 2017 • 5 min read

Northwest Territories and beyond

Aurora reflected in a lake

Things to Do in Yellowknife, Canada - Yellowknife Attractions

Things to do in yellowknife, explore popular experiences, ways to tour yellowknife.

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4- to 6-Hour Northern Lights Tour from Yellowknife

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Yellowknife Aurora viewing at Aurora Lodge + Aurora Hunting

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Yellowknife Sightseeing City Tour

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Intimate Aurora Tours Cozy Cabin Bucket List

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Yellowknife Tours - Aurora by bus

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4-Day Guided Tour to Yellowknife Aurora Viewing

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Northern Lights Tour Yellowknife

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Sightseeing City Tour

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The Best Aurora Tour

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4D3N Aurora Package Including 3-Nights stay Chateau or Explorer

Nature and wildlife tours.

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Top Attractions in Yellowknife

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Half-day Tours

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Multi-day Tours

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Winter Sports

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What travelers are saying.


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Travel Media

Northwest Territories Tourism

Welcome to Spectacular NWT Travel Media

Catch a trophy fish in the pristine waters of our legendary Northern lakes. Paddle through the great canyons of the Nahanni, or rush headlong into the whitewater of the Slave River. Enjoy road trips that take you farther than anywhere else (ever wanted to see the Arctic Ocean?), or simply stand in awe under the swirling lights and colours of the best Aurora on the planet. Just remember to breathe from time to time.

Our Stories

Intriguing tales from Canada's Northwest Territories

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Driving the great adventure on the wild Dempster highway

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The Ingraham Trail: Wilderness Just Outside The City

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The king and his icy castle

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Get up here to get down: Your guide to the north’s best fests

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The midnight sun is so freaky and wild that you’ve just gotta see it

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The NWT’s toughest trail

In the media.

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Why now is the time for Indigenous-led winter adventures in the Northwest Territories

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2024 is the best time to see the Northern Lights in decades: How to plan your trip

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Exploring Yellowknife with the locals, I discover a delightfully unconventional city unlike any other

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This Small Canadian City Is the Northern Lights Capital of North America

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See the best of Canada's Northwest Territories on a southern road trip

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Holy Grail: The First SUP Descent of the Mountain River

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The Haunting History of This Canadian National Park

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Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, Northwest Territories

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See Why You Gotta Visit The Northwest Territories

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Tutoyaktuk: Canada's Last Arctic Village?

NWT Tourism regularly sends media updates. You can find a record of these updates here.

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Spectacular Videos

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VR 360 Paddle Yellowknife Bay | Meet Bison | Sail to Thaidene Nëné National Park

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Spectacular IMC

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Extraordinary - every month of the year

Yellowkife Aurora

Yellowknife is Canada's capital of cool

Here you'll find it all. Skyscrapers springing from rocky outcrops at the edge of Great Slave Lake. Sailboats gliding across Back Bay. Float planes soaring in the midnight sun. Famous events, including a cultural festival in a snow palace and a music festival on a sandy shore. A neighbourhood of bright houseboats, all aglow beneath the Aurora. Mansions built next to log cabins and teepees; and a whole bunch of friendly, offbeat locals, having an extraordinary time in the wildest little city on earth.

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2020 Visitor's Guide

View or download the 2020 Extraordinary Yellowknife Visitor's Guide: Travel Tips, Maps, Activities

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“2015 nwt operator of the year award” "2017 akaitcho business of the year award" "2018 citie the best outbound travel operator prize" "2020 ai business excellence award" "2021 luxlife travel and tourism awards" "2023 tripadvisor travellers' choice award".

We would like to welcome you to experience the world-class Aurora Borealis viewing in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

Yellowknife & Aurora


Experience the natural spectacle

Yellowknife is the premium location to view Aurora Borealis, also known as Northern Lights.

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Enjoy what nature has to offer

There are plenty of other fun-filled activities to complement the natural beauty of Aurora Borealis.

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Adventure With Us

Our experienced, friendly tour guides will make sure you get the most out of your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

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Five Reasons Why Yellowknife, Canada Is The Best Place To View Northern Lights

Yoriko from Japan

“Thank you very much for your kindness while we were in Yellowknife. We really had a good time there. We never forget the beautiful Northern lights, dog sledding, kind people etc. We have a lot of wonderful memories and hope to see you again”

Yoriko from Japan

Stephen from Vancouver

Once in a life time……lucky and amazed Twice….fulfilled and praised Third time ?! Crazy but blessed. Stole some time and went there last weekend for two nights. Another taste, another mood, dark blue starry night. The daytime dogsled race was a bonus!  

Stephen from Vancouver



Libert from Vancouver

Verda, very glad to know you and your family and thanks for your help in Yellowknife, NWT. We have a pleasant tour in NWT by your help. Actually, we learned a lot from you. If you plan to be in Vancouver someday, please let me know and I really like to be your friend in the future.

Libert from Vancouver

Wu from Vancouver

Verda, Angela & Law, Really have to say many thanks to you guys, all the arrangements and warmest hospitality, which made every one of us feel like home. Every day’s programme was full of excitement. Law is really a professional tourist guide, that’s why we called him a life directory of Yellowknife. Verda, you made me so warm when I first touched ground of Yellowknife. Once again thanks for the Law family, hope to see you soon in Vancouver or again in Yellowknife.

Wu from Vancouver

Lucia Wang & NG from Hong Kong


Lucia Wang & NG from Hong Kong

Our story featured on social media.

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Latest News

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Conquer your fear of the dark and unlock the beauty of the night sky! Like Orio…

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Mesmerizing moments under the Northern Lights Join us in celebrating the magi…

Hip hip hurray hip hip hurray yeah yeah thank you everyone for putting s….

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Love, much like the aurora, is a magnificent spectacle that brings people togeth…

As winter bids adieu and we gear up for autumn’s embrace, we’re reflecting on t….

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Growing Tourism in Yellowknife

Tourism is a big deal – not just for hotels, restaurants and tour operators but for everyone who lives here. In fact tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Yellowknife economy. There are hundreds of local jobs in tourism and scores of local businesses that wouldn’t exist without tourists. To continue to grow tourism in NWT communities the Government of the Northwest Territories has passed legislation to allow tax based towns and cities to collect a levy on the daily cost of visitor accommodations.

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Yellowknife Accommodation Levy

Let's get behind a NWT Accommodation Levy!

Over 100,000 visitors travelled to the NWT between October 2016 and September 2017 spending more than $200 million!

To continue to grow tourism in the City of Yellowknife a levy of UP TO 4% will be collected on short-term accommodations.

  • Levy Resources

Survey Results Support Levy

Destination Marketing Organization (DMO)

Almost all large cities in Canada have created Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) to diversify and strengthen their economies. These lean marketing organizations fill in the gap between the marketing efforts of individual tour operators and hotels and the larger tourism organizations that brand and market a whole province or territory. 

  • DMO Resources

Your Questions & Answers

News and updates

On october 28, 2018 the government of nwt passed bill 18..

The City of Yellowknife plans to collect a levy of UP TO 4% on all short term accommodations. These funds will support the creation of a Destination Marketing Organization whose primary function...

What is happening with the levy in October 2018

Bill 18 - An act to amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act to authorize councils to impose a tax on tourist accommodations. Bill 18 has had its third...

Can the Levy Support a Visitors Centre?

We all have heard about the fate of the NFVA/Visitors Centre and the need for a new building to provide visitor services. We’ve received some questions about whether or not the Levy funds could be...

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Tourism Industry

Welcome to the spectacular nwt tourism industry website.

The tourism industry in the Northwest Territories is vibrant and growing.

This industry website is meant for all businesses and individuals involved in the tourism industry in the Northwest Territories. On this site you will find useful information and news related to the tourism industry, upcoming events, and information about membership in the association. 

Latest News

The latest news from our member communications.

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SuperHost® Customer Service Training - 2024 Summer Dates

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New NWTT Co-op Marketing Opportunities

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New Funding Available via Indigenous Tourism Fund: Micro and Small Business Stream

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2024 NWT Tourism & Rio Tinto Scholarships

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Welcome to Our Newest Team Member

New funding available from bdic (prosper nwt).

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Reminder to Update/Add Packages on SpectacularNWT Website

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Celebrate Tourism Week! - April 15-19, 2024

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Join Thaidene Nëné Pop-up Event!

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Survey - Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing (Tourism HR Canada)

NWT Tourism regularly sends member updates. You can find a record of these updates here.

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Caitlin Cleveland: Strengthening GNWT Supports for NWT Artists

Yellowknife — June 6, 2024

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Mr. Speaker, art is powerful and art is beautiful, but it is far more than a thing of beauty. Art is a personal, local, and global connector. It connects people to themselves, to one another, and to people living across the world. Further, it connects us to culture, land, and Elders and is critical to our well-being and to our shared and individual histories. Art is a conduit of healing. Art is foundational to how we educate our children, preserve traditions, feed community wellness, and build a strong and independent territory.

The arts sector plays a valuable role in the NWT, not only for its own sake but also by upholding a diverse economy that provides artists with employment choices and income opportunities. With such a vast territory, artists are supported across all disciplines, from fine crafts to jewelry, from spoken and written word to film productions, all of which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

As part of our mandate, this government committed to making GNWT programs and services more accessible to NWT residents through person-centred approaches that prioritize ease of access for residents over ease of administration.

The decision to realign the various programs that serve the arts sector so that they are housed in one place, within the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, is one way to deliver on this promise.

This action brings supports for NWT artists of all types under one department for a single point of contact, rather than spread between staff at different departments. I expect this work to build more capacity to deliver arts programs and result in a better service experience for all artists. Artists will no longer need to navigate multiple government departments to access funding, resources, and assistance.

To ensure a smooth transition for artists and staff, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment are developing a structured change management process that ensures the full transfer of knowledge and processes. The departments are committed to advancing this change with input from all staff while maintaining open communication.  

Mr. Speaker, this shift excites me as it not only creates an easy-to-access single service window for resident artists, but also because it allows the government to more effectively leverage the economic opportunities presented to the arts sector. The arts sector represents a significant component of the Northwest Territories economy, cultural industries added up to over $100 million in gross domestic product in 2022. This number is likely an underestimate to the extent that some people involved in arts and culture do not formally identify as artists.

Promoting the arts with a unified voice is expected to create more opportunities for more artists to showcase their creativity to the world. Indigenous artists are gaining recognition and demand worldwide as they reach new audiences and sell their work to new consumers online. The film sector, in particular, has great potential to bring the North to the world and bring the world to the world and shows the linkages between arts and tourism. Partnerships between artists and the tourism sector can lead to innovative cultural experiences for visitors, while collaborations with the film industry can promote the NWT as a filming destination. Such strategic collaborations will maximize the economic and cultural impact of the arts sector.

Mr. Speaker, by placing supports for artists in one spot, our government is empowering our public service and providing flexibility to deliver programs and services that work for residents. I look forward to sharing more details on these changes later this year. As we move forward, let us reaffirm our commitment to championing our arts sector to reach its full creative, cultural, and economic potential.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The top 10 attractions in the Northwest Territories

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Things to do

The best the Northwest Territories has to offer takes you into the wild, out of your comfort zone and around the local community.

The Northern Lights

Northern lights

We don't need to introduce you to the Northern lights External Link Title . Most people are already very familiar with this natural phenomenon, which sees the bright reds, blues, greens and yellows dance and shift across the night sky. I mean, this is like a top 10 bucket list item we're talking about. What you might not know is that the Northwest Territories provides some of the best (if not THE best) aurora borealis viewing in the world. In both fall and winter, when the sky is clear, you can sit back, look up and enjoy one of the greatest shows on earth. Rent out a lodge, cabin or teepee in the wilderness so you can enjoy the lights in style. Ski, dog sled or snowmobile to a particularly clear spot and make an activity out of it. Or look through your hotel window and marvel at Mother Nature. This isn't an attraction in the traditional sense, but you can't really talk about the Northwest Territories without talking about the Northern Lights. 

Great Slave Lake

Great Slave Lake, which borders the provincial capital Yellowknife, is the deepest lake in North America (2,014 feet), the tenth biggest lake in the world, and is actually larger than Lake Eerie and Lake Ontario. So how do you experience something so huge? How about by plane? Floatplanes fly in and out of the lake, and offer breathtaking views of the region. Or maybe by boat? Rent a kayak and skirt the shore line, or opt for a larger boat and go fishing for lake trout and pike. Maybe you'd prefer to snowmobile? There's ice on Great Slave Lake for eight months of the year, and during much of that time you can cross the water via snowmobile. Pick a spot, park out, and look up for a chance at seeing the Northern Lights.

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Nahanni National Park Reserve

If you want to really experience the northern wilderness, the Nahanni National Park Reserve External Link Title is a welcoming sight--especially for paddlers. The rushing whitewater Nahanni River flows through the reserve, passing through four large canyons which can reach close to 4,000 feet in depth. At one point, the river plunges 295 feet off a cliff forming the Virginia Falls, which are twice the height of their Niagara counterpart. Sulfur hot springs, mountain ranges, tundra and forests can all be found within the boundaries of Nahanni. The reserve is remote, but visitors can camp throughout the summer months. Join a guide and ride the rapids for incomparable views and a serious adrenaline rush. Hiking and mountain climbing provides another perspective on the park, and may bring you in sight of Dall's sheep, woodland caribou, wolves and black bears. It's no wonder National Geographic named the park one of the best trips of 2014.

You might have seen the History Channel show "Ice Road Truckers." The show was originally filmed on the ice roads of the Northwest Territories, home to the world's longest ice road. The kicker? You yourself can drive and experience these roads during the winter months, with the help of local tours. The ice roads, built on top of packed snow and three feet of ice, add 870 miles to the territory's highways in the winter, connecting them to mines and more remote communities. The conditions can be dangerous, but a number of tour operators will take visitors out onto the ice roads for a drive they'll remember. Heck, you can even ride the ice in a limousine. That's a story you can tell the grandkids.

Wood Buffalo National Park Salt Plains - Credit: Parks Canada/C. Macdonald

Wood Buffalo National Park

Have you ever visited a national park that's bigger than the entire nation of Switzerland? Wood Buffalo National Park External Link Title is actually Canada's largest national park, at over 17,300 square miles. It's also home to the world's largest beaver dam, one of the world's largest herds of free roaming bison, and is the last remaining natural nesting area for the endangered whooping crane. Beyond the incomparable wildlife watching, the massive park is great for exploring on foot or via canoe. You can literally spend a few weeks camping in the park and not even scratch the surface. Make sure you stop by the strange Salt Plains, the dried remains of a 380 million-year-old seabed where salt-like minerals are pushed to the surface from below--almost like stalagmites above ground.

Canol Trail

Do you like to push yourself to the limit? Test your gumption out in the wild? The Canol Trail is probably your kind of attraction. A remnant of the Second World War, the trail was initially created as a road and pipeline route between Norman Wells in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. After being used for a year, they became too difficult to maintain, and rusting trucks, overground stations and other 'signs of man' still dot the route. The Canol Trail is no joke. It's 222 miles of unkempt paths, river beds, mountain tracks, glacier-carved canyons and other surprises, and is known as one of the most difficult trails in Canada. It will take the average hiker over three weeks, in remote wilderness void of civilization, to do the entire Canol Trail, though most only do part of it. Some have tackled the trail a little faster on mountain bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and dogsleds. For the rest of us, many tour companies offer aerial tours of the interesting, historical route.

Dempster Highway

The 450-mile  Dempster Highway External Link Title  was built for people who really love to drive. Hop in your ride and roll from Dawson City, through the rugged mountain peaks of the Tombstone Range, across the Arctic Circle and into the Mackenzie River Delta, before parking it in Inuvik. Along the way you can camp, fish, canoe and generally enjoy the scenery of remote wilderness. The road, named for an RCMP inspector who would traverse the route in a dogsled, is now most often driven in summer, where nearly 24 hours of sun can make for long, enjoyable driving days. Take on the top of the world from behind your steering wheel.

Great Northern Arts Festival

During 56 summer days, the Northwest Territories experience 24 hours of daylight. Rather than worry about how it might affect their sleep, locals jumped at the opportunity to celebrate this unique setting. For more than a quarter of a century,  the Great Northern Arts Festival External Link Title  has showcased the works of 120 Northern painters, sculptors, musicians and First Nations artists from across the country, all under the Midnight Sun. Watch a Gwich'in woman create handmade Aboriginal dolls and see a polar bear emerge from a soapstone in the hands of a native carver. Dance to Inuit hip-hop. Then dine surf-and-turf Arctic-style-- char and caribou-- before kicking up your heels to northern rock, throat singing and traditional drumming in your brand new mukluks.

The Keele River

Keele River

Paddlers from across the world regularly turn to the Keele River for their next adventure. The 215-mile long river passes through alpine tundra, alpine plateaus and the Mackenzie Mountains, offering incredible surroundings for the canoers and rafters who move along the waterway. Of course, they also have to keep their eyes on the water, as swift currents, swirling eddies, and fast-moving rapids make for challenging but exciting travel. Grab a floatplane, fly into the headwaters, stretch your shoulders, and grab a seat in the boat. For those who like a calmer experience, the Keele also provides great fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. The moose and beavers you might encounter were hunted by the Dene Peoples along the Keele for 12,000 years. 

Acho Dene Native crafts

The Deh Gah Gotie Dene (people who live by the river) have always inhabited the Northwest Territories. The history and culture of these First Peoples are carried on with the help of crafts, and it is from this tradition that Acho Dene Native crafts External Link Title was born. More than 40 cottage producers living in the community use ancestral techniques to make fur clothing, birch bark baskets, jewelry, moccasins, mukluks and more. The store is a must-stop for those looking for a souvenir that tells a real story about the Northwest Territories.

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Nirmala Naidoo to the annual conference of the Western Association of Broadcasters

From: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

We’re building a broadcasting framework that supports our shared goals. One that allows you to continue to provide Canadians with the news and content they need.

Banff, Alberta June 6, 2024

Nirmala Naidoo, Commissioner for Alberta and the Northwest Territories Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Check against delivery


Thank you for the kind introduction.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on traditional Treaty 7 territory. I acknowledge the many Indigenous communities located in Western Canada, and pay respect to these Nations and their Elders who have lived in and cared for these lands for generations.

I’m delighted to participate once again in your annual conference. It’s nice to see so many familiar faces from last year’s event.

As you know, the CRTC is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that regulates the Canadian communications sector in the public interest. We hold public hearings on telecommunications and broadcasting matters, and make decisions based on the public record.

In telecommunications, our work focuses mainly on Internet and cellphone services. We promote choice and affordability for Canadians, encourage investment in reliable and high-quality networks, and work to improve access to services in Indigenous, rural and remote communities.

But today, we are here to discuss the other side of our house: broadcasting. I know several of you heard from me a month ago in Richmond. You will be happy to hear I have a few new updates to share with you, despite the short time since we have seen each other. As our Chairperson said a couple days ago in Toronto, at the CRTC we are moving fast and taking action.

But before we get to that, I want to take a moment to address the changes in the broadcasting system today. We know many of you are facing challenges.

Streaming services and online news have changed the way broadcasting and journalism are done. Advertising revenues have shifted and business models along with it. Creators, journalists, and news stations are finding it harder to meet Canadians’ needs with their valuable work.

That’s something we are seeing across the country, both nationally and in local markets.

At the same time, we know the important role broadcasting continues to play. Local radio, for example, brings the world to Canadian communities and gives a platform to local voices. It promotes local programming and elevates Canadian and Indigenous artists. Simply put, it brings us together.

That’s something that matters to me personally. I am passionate about broadcasting and journalism. Before I joined the Commission, I worked as a television journalist and anchor in Canada and around the world. I’ve seen firsthand how broadcasting connects people and how trusted sources of news can help inform public debate.

Access to a fair and equitable communications system that disseminates crucial information, no matter who you are or where you are, is the cornerstone of democracy. Conversely, as someone of colour who was born in apartheid South Africa, I’ve seen how unfair and inequitable access to communications systems, and specifically broadcasting and news, can do the opposite.

It’s with these experiences in mind, and a desire to give back and serve the greater good, that I joined the CRTC. My fellow Commissioners and I, and the staff at the CRTC, are moving quickly to modernize Canada’s broadcasting framework.

Key to that process is ensuring that Canadians have access to regional news and local information, and that Canada maintains a vibrant and diverse broadcasting landscape.

Online Streaming Act and contributions decision

Much of our work in that regard concerns the implementation of the amended Broadcasting Act . This time last year, we had just published our regulatory plan setting out our approach. We had also launched our initial consultations.

A year later, I can say that we are making progress on our goal of building a regulatory framework that is flexible and adaptable. Just two days ago we made our decision on base financial contributions to the system by streaming services.

Let me share with you some of the details.

We decided that online streaming services should be required to make a base financial contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system. Traditional broadcasters have obligations, including being required to spend certain amounts on Canadian content. It is only fair that online streamers should contribute as well.

Larger online streaming services will have to pay a base contribution of 5% of their applicable revenues. We expect this to generate approximately $200 million in new funding each year for Canada’s broadcasting system. That obligation for streaming services will start in the 2024-25 broadcast year, which starts on September 1, 2024.

This funding will help address the most immediate challenges the broadcasting system is facing now and will allow us to implement our plan for the future. These funds will help support a range of programming that is important to Canadians.

We are proposing that some of the contributions go to FACTOR, Musicaction and The Canadian Starmaker Fund to support music from Indigenous creators and equity-deserving groups. The Community Radio Fund of Canada would also receive funds to support creators from these communities, as well as French-language content, and local and community radio news. Further, some of the contributions would be set aside for a new fund offered through the Indigenous Music Office.

We will also be establishing a local news fund for radio stations outside major urban areas. We know how important local news is, and we know it needs support now.

More decisions on contributions to the broadcasting system will follow. We will continue to adapt as needed, from adding more funding to implementing new measures later on. We know we need to move quickly, but we must balance that with the need to consult broadly with Canadians.

You can find more details about the process in our regulatory plan. We have an ambitious agenda that aligns with the direction the government provided us last fall. We updated the plan just a few weeks ago on our website. It lays out our upcoming public proceedings. They will play an important role in determining how each radio station, television service and online streaming service will contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system.

In recent weeks, we have heard some frustration from folks tired of waiting for meaningful decisions. I can understand that feeling.

But as you know, overhauling a regulatory system that has been evolving for decades is a tall order. I can assure you we are acting quickly and consulting meaningfully at every step of the way.  We have prioritized definitions of Canadian content and engagement with Indigenous peoples, equity-deserving, and official language minority communities. And we are making sure that our modernized broadcasting framework takes into account the shifting landscape in which you all live and work.

And we will continue to balance moving quickly with consult broadly as we implement the legislation Parliament has given us. Because gathering the views of all Canadians is how we make decisions that have the public interest at heart. In fact, the public record upon which we based our recent decision included input from many of you, and we thank you all.

I encourage you all to remain just as involved as we continue this process. So, let me share with you some of the upcoming consultations in which you can get involved.

Upcoming consultations

Later this year, we are moving forward with a consultation that will explore new ways to fund the participation of groups that represent the public interest in our processes.

That consultation will be followed by a series of other activities during the winter and spring of next year. We will be examining structural relationships between small, medium and large players. Among other elements, we’re going to look at what’s in our toolbox. Right now we have tools such as mandatory carriage on television, mediation and final offer arbitration. We want to see if these tools still work, and whether they apply in a digital age.

We want to make sure we are regulating not for regulation’s sake, but for outcomes that are in the interest of Canadians.

At the same time, we will continue our work on other consultations, all of which will also be supported by public proceedings.

One will study all aspects of radio and audio streaming services in Canada. We will examine issues including how to support the industry and Canadian music, how to define audio content, and what regulatory obligations should exist.  

Another will examine possible changes to the definition of Canadian content for television and online programming.

The third will study how to ensure everyone has access to high-quality and diverse local and national news programming on TV and radio, as well as online.

Another series of consultations will look at how the broadcasting system can better reflect the experiences of all people in Canada and foster access to diverse voices and perspectives.

I want to bring special attention to our Indigenous Broadcasting Policy co-development process. We launched its second phase in March of this year and issued a notice of consultation—in English, French, and seven Indigenous languages. The questions in the consultation invited views on how the modernized policy can meet the needs and interests of Indigenous audiences, broadcasters, and content creators.

The comment period is now very much open and will remain so until July 22 nd . Anyone who is interested can participate through our usual channels or through the CRTC Conversations platform. As another option, those who are interested can hold a community-led engagement session and submit a summary of the discussions. To take part, contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-877-249-2782.

I know this sounds like a lot and, to be frank, it is.  But we firmly believe that these processes are the important next steps to setting up the broadcasting, production and creative sectors for longer-term success.

This is how we are developing a broadcasting framework that makes sense for everyone—for businesses, for creators, and for Canadians at large.

Online News Act

In the time I have left, I want to give you a quick update on the Online News Act . Our consultation on the regulatory framework for the Act closed in April. We have been developing a framework that will support fair commercial agreements between news organizations in Canada and major online platforms that distribute their content.

All online platforms have until June 16 th to notify the CRTC if the Online News Act applies to them. We expect some may ask for an exemption from bargaining. We will examine any such requests thoroughly to understand the rationale and implications.

Finally, later this year, we will issue a call for proposals for an independent auditor, who will prepare an annual report on the impact of the Act on Canada’s digital news marketplace.

We expect to start publishing decisions that set out this important framework later this year.

I’ll wrap up my remarks today by reiterating our commitment, at the CRTC, to a healthy Canadian broadcasting system. We know that as the broadcasting system changes, so too must the regulatory framework we oversee.

We know that continuing to deliver high-quality services to your audiences in the face of a shifting landscape is not easy.

We absolutely understand and appreciate the vital role you all play within your communities – the information you provide, the fundraising you support and the linkages you create – that cannot be found elsewhere.

All the work that I’ve detailed today, the work that is ongoing now, and the work that is to come, supports this ambitious goal. But this work needs to be supported by public records that are as complete as possible.

That’s where you come in. Participate in our processes. Talk to us.

If you have questions about our processes, or about our work, please reach out. We have a call line dedicated to broadcasters. You can call us any time at 866-893-0932 on any issue. We are here to help. I can’t say that often enough.

Our doors are always open, and we understand the challenges you face.

Media Relations 819-997-9403

General Inquiries 819-997-0313 Toll-free 1-877-249-CRTC (2782) TTY 819-994-0423

Stay Connected Follow us on Twitter @CRTCeng Like us on Facebook

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New private college in Yellowknife says it will help the North — but its critics aren't sold

Both of the college's diploma programs were rejected by the territorial government.

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A new Yellowknife-based private college that's promising "transformational learning" for northerners has run into some roadblocks to accreditation, and critics say it's not clear what kind of programming it's offering or to whom.

The N.W.T. government formally rejected the College of Northern Canada's application to offer diplomas in global tourism management and global logistics, according to Chehrazade Aboukinane, the college's president. The college is still operating and offering non-accredited courses. 

In an interview with CBC, executives of the college defended the programming they want to offer and hailed it as a new education model that aims to help Indigenous people from remote communities. 

However, the college's tuition fees aren't public, it isn't eligible for student financial aid, and few details exist on the website for the college itself. A drop-down menu shows several courses with no description. Instead, applicants are instructed to call "an advisor."

Centre of excellence and logistics learning

Despite its diploma programs being denied by the N.W.T.'s Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), the college is still offering other training: a logistics pathways program that welcomed a cohort of students at the beginning of May.

Louis Blais, vice president of business development and marketing for the college, said the program grants a Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT)-Certified Logistics Professional (CCLP) designation.

"It's a great way to unlock access to a lot of great-paying careers and jobs in logistics because, as we all know, in northern Canada and especially in the territories, logistics is a very, very in-demand job," Blais said. 

A man sits in front of a virtual college promo.

CITT's website lists several trucking organizations as industry partners. 

Shaun Murray, a regional manager for Det'on Cho Landtran Transport, a trucking company in Yellowknife, told CBC he'd never heard of the CCLP designation. He said work experience is really what matters. 

Pina Melchionna, president and CEO of CITT, who is also listed on the college's website as faculty, said the course's mandate isn't for truck drivers specifically — it's more focused on office jobs. 

Blais said the school has about a dozen potential employers and companies willing to place students who go through the program, but declined to share that list with CBC. 

"No further information will be shared until after the grand opening," Blais wrote in an email, but didn't say when the grand opening would be.

Diploma programs denied  

As for the diplomas, college president Chehrazade Aboukinane said the college is still in discussions with ECE about the rejection and "there is little information" she can reveal.

CBC News reached out to Caitlin Cleveland, the N.W.T.'s education minister, about why the applications were rejected.  A department spokesperson responded by email.

"The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is committed to taking the time necessary to work through the accreditation process with the College of Northern Canada," wrote Katherine Barton, a spokesperson for ECE.

She said the N.W.T.'s accreditation process ensures "post-secondary institutions are properly governed and that programs, courses and the institutions themselves meet rigorous quality assurance processes."

Dan Round, ECE's manager of advanced education and strategic initiatives, said the territory's Post-Secondary Education Act of 2022 gave the territory an opportunity to look at what was working in other jurisdictions.

A man wearing a button up shirt smiles.

The N.W.T.'s rules cap the number of international students any institution can have at 30 per cent of the student body. It also has two quality assurance bodies, which are organizations that look at what the applicant will be offering students. These ensure a minimum standard for all accredited institutions, and rules around refunds for students.

"The idea is that a degree taken in the North will be recognized as a degree anywhere else," Round said. 

'A non-traditional educational institution' 

Norman Yak'e ula, who is in the midst of running for Dene National chief, is one of the N.W.T. Indigenous leaders on the college's academic council.

"We're looking at a new transformational type of learning for the Northwest Territories," he said, adding that it focuses on getting young people into the workforce. 

Other members of the academic council include former cabinet minister Tom Beaulieu, Délı̨nę Chief (ekw'ahtı̨dé) Danny Gaudet and Steven Nitah, former Łutsel K'e chief.

A man, sitting at a table, speaks into a microphone. While another man, sitting beside him and wearing a cowboy hat, looks on.

Yak'e ula said although there is a lack of Indigenous instructors at the school, he's hoping that changes soon.

"We got really smart Indigenous and northern people who could fill these positions as professors," he said. 

"Maybe in 10 years or less."  

Aboukinane describes it as "a non-traditional educational institution" that is "targeting primarily Indigenous learners from various educational levels and backgrounds."

In an interview with NNSL , Aboukinane said there are no students from the North currently enrolled in the logistics program that's being offered. Blais confirmed in an email that there are no northern students registered. 

No student financial assistance

A lack of public information and a lack of financial support for students are two concerns Julia Christensen, an associate professor in the department of geography and planning at Queen's University, has about the college.

Christensen, who grew up in Yellowknife, said she wonders if the college will offer education that benefits northern and Indigenous communities. 

"I'd really like to see a lot more presented to the northern public about the process of the development of this college," she said. 

A woman wearing a black shirt stares straight ahead.

She also worries about the financial burden it could place on prospective students. Students attending the college are not eligible for the N.W.T.'s student financial assistance program.

"That really, really limits, ultimately, what kind of an opportunity this is for northerners," Christensen said.

Aboukinane, the college president, said the school is "not looking at funding for existing students."

"We've had several interested applicants who were ready to pay the price it takes to learn and pursue their professional designation," she said. 

The college declined to tell CBC how much its courses cost, and also doesn't provide those costs online. 

However, in its application for the now-rejected global tourism and logistics programs, it wrote that tuition for those courses would have been $7,200 a year for domestic students.

A woman stares straight ahead.

Huge debt loads, few job opportunities 

Many of the criticisms levelled against private career colleges involve them taking advantage of international students, who pay a high price for tuition.

The College of Northern Canada isn't listed as a designated learning institute that's allowed to accept international students, but in its rejected application, it did apply to be allowed.

A woman standing in an office smiles.

A director of Momentum, an Alberta-based charity that offers skilled training to people with lower incomes, said private career colleges offer a wide range of quality education — depending on which ones you look at.

Courtney Mo said her organization applied for funding from the federal government to complete a study that documents student experiences with private career colleges. 

"[There are] some really great colleges that are connecting students to important jobs and meaningful work," said Courtney Mo.

"[There are] other colleges that are offering really concerning educational experiences, really poor-quality instruction and instructional materials, and some that were outright misleading, that were offering false and incorrect information."

  • N.W.T.'s Aurora College pauses plan to become a polytechnic university
  • B.C., Ontario vow to crack down on diploma mill schools exploiting international students

Mo said her organization encourages provincial and territorial governments to have a minimum quality standard for private colleges, which the N.W.T. has.

She also encourages them to limit which institutions can access government student financial assistance, as that can sometimes make the institution look more legitimate.

In the N.W.T., non-accredited schools don't qualify for student financial aid. 


nwt tourist attractions

Luke Carroll is a journalist with CBC News in Yellowknife. He can be reached at [email protected].

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