Photostory #271: Yellowknife: Bridging Gap Between Three Worlds

Gar Lunney
National Film Board of Canada
Release Date
November 1, 1960
CMCP fonds
Credit Line
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Main Text
700 air miles north from Edmonton, on the shore of lonely Great Slave Lake, the town of Yellowknife which made its lusty appearance 25 years ago as a gold rush settlement, is today the scene of a unique educational venture designed to bring high school opportunities to Canada's most northerly pupils. Two-year-old Sir John Franklin School, named for one of the country's great explorers, has attracted students from the far corners of Canada's vast northland. From Old Crow in the mountains of the Yukon, Great Whale River east of Hudson Bay and remote islands high in the Arctic Ocean, boys and girls of Eskimo, Indian, Metis and White descent have travelled to the tiny, but thriving (population 3,500) community at Yellowknife. Here they may enrol in the academic courses designed to equip them for entrance to any university in Canada or, they can enlist in the vocational program which offers instruction in such varied classes as typing and home economics to building construction. The 3 million-dollar high school, with its accompanying residences and auditorium, is regarded as a hallmark in Canadian education, offering as it does an integrated system for all pupils, regardless of race or creed, geared to their academic abilities and vocational needs. Latest enrolment figures show a total of close to 200 students registered for the present school term of which approximately 16% are of Indian extraction and 14% Eskimo. Last year's beauty queen was an attractive Eskimo girl, Shirley Andraesen, while a popular young Indian boy was elected school president. At Yellowknife's high school, the sons and daughters of businessmen and civil servants, many with years of experience in the white man's world "down south", live in harmony and friendship with native Eskimo and Indian students: a unique experiment in education, a splendid example of good citizenship.