Deline, Northwest Territories

The Charter Community of Délįne is located in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada on the western shore of Great Bear Lake and is 544 km (338 mi) northwest of Yellowknife.

The population as of the 2006 Census was 525, mainly Sahtu Dene people speaking North Slavey. Délįne means "where the waters flow", a reference to the headwaters of the Great Bear River, Sahtúdé.


The area became prominent when pitchblende was discovered at the Eldorado Mine, some 250 km (155 mi) away, on the eastern shore, at Port Radium. During World War II, the Canadian government took over the mine and began to produce uranium for the then-secret American nuclear bomb project. The village became a permanent settlement in 1952 with the building of a school.

The Dene from Délįne, who were conscripted as ore carriers, were not informed about the risks of radioactivity or how to protect themselves. Most of those men who participated began to die of cancer in the 1960s.

According to oral history, while canoeing on Great Bear Lake in the early part of the 20th century, a Délįne elder reached a precipice where he had a vision of a great city burning, of people who comported First Nations features enduring great suffering. According to tradition, this precipice is where uranium was later discovered.

John Franklin

The community was formerly called "Fort Franklin" and was the site of John Franklin's winter site during his second expedition. The community changed to the current name on 1 June, 1993

Land claims

Délįne is represented by the Deline First Nation and belong to the Sahtu Dene Council. Through the council they are in negotiations with the Government of Canada for a land claims settlement.

Polar bears

On 2 April 2008 three polar bears, a mother and two cubs, were seen in the community, which is south of the Arctic Ocean. The bears, which were harassing dogs, and posed a danger to local people were shot by a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police due to the lack of wildlife officers with tranquillisers. A biologist with the Government of the NWT took samples from the bears, which are marine mammals and usually remain near the ocean. The biologist stated that the animals were starving and that they were unable to take fat samples and their muscles were starting to break down. A biologist with the University of Alberta said that the unusual sighting was "...probably an indication of something changing broadly over an ecosystem,".


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