Government legislation and services

Federal government

In theory, federal services in Yellowknife must be provided in both official languages. In reality, some offices have one (or more) bilingual employees, but this varies widely from one department to another. According to statistics from the Canada Public Service Agency, 3.7% of the 616 positions in the federal public service in the Northwest Territories are designated bilingual.

Territorial government

Largely based on its federal equivalent, the Northwest Territories Official Languages Act, passed in 1984, confirms the equality of French and English in all government services-in all head offices, offices where there is a specific need, and offices where there is a significant demand. A Canada-N.W.T. co‑operation agreement on languages provides for full funding of Frenchlanguage services by the federal government. Some institutions, such as Yellowknife's Stanton Hospital, provide a certain level of service in French through non-professional interpreters. This is not the method proposed by the N.W.T. Francophone community, which would prefer an active offer of service with bilingual employees in bilingual positions.In 2008, a one-step service for information in French, Services TNO, was set up.

In January 2000, the Fédération franco-ténoise, which represents the Francophone community, concluding that, after 15 years, the Official Languages Act was still not being applied, took legal action against the territorial and federal governments. In April 2006, Justice Moreau of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories recognized the harm done to Francophones by the lack of communications and services in their language and issued a structural order to the territorial government. The case was appealed in November 2007. The decision handed down in the summer of 2008 did not contradict Justice Moreau's findings regarding these wrongs. The Fédération franco-ténoise asked the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to be heard on other aspects of the dispute. However, in the winter of 2009, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.


There are no municipal services offered in French. However, the municipality of Fort Smith is quadrilingual. In recent years, more openness toward the Francophone community has been noticed among the members of the four communities where Francophones live. However, the struggle for a "place in the snow" has not yet been won.

Legal Services

In civil and criminal matters, the judicial system is able to offer trials in French.