Our history
Celebrating 25 years

Twenty-five years ago, the Yellowknife Community Foundation began with a simple concept – that people working together can make a difference.

From our humble beginnings in 1993, we have grown to inspire and help to build a healthy and resilient community.

1991
Origins
The history of the Yellowknife Community Foundation is the history of Yellowknife.

Yellowknife was a very different place in 1991 when the idea for a community foundation was first proposed. It was a city of gold on the edge of the tundra. It had been over fifty years since the first gold brick was poured at Con Mine but there was a change on the horizon that would propel the City onto the world stage – the discovery of diamonds.
1991
1 June 1993
Founding
On June 1st 1993, the Yellowknife Community Foundation was incorporated as a charity. That same year, the Legislative Assembly was officially opened – it was the first building in 72 years built specifically for the Northwest Territories Government.
1 June 1993
13 January 1994
First Donation
On January 13th 1994, we received our first donation to the Community Fund and our years of work began to come to life. Later that same year, Queen Elizabeth II stopped in the City on her tour of Northern Canada and officially dedicated the Legislative Assembly.
13 January 1994
1996
Growing, Growing...
By 1996, construction at Canada’s first diamond mine was well and truly underway, and quietly back in Yellowknife – 25 donors had built a small capital fund of $66,000 – including a $10,000 donation from Ed Baker.
1996
First Grant
In 1994, we reached an historic milestone when we were able to give our first two grants to SideDoor and the Ed Baker Centre that same year. Can you believe it's almost been 25 years?
1998
Building Momentum
1998 saw the world come to Yellowknife not once, but twice. First, for the 15th biennial Arctic Winter Games and second, for the official opening of EKATI Diamond Mine. That year, we were also able to give grants to the Yellowknife Women’s Centre, NWT Special Olympics, the Yellowknife Seniors Society, the Youth Volunteer Corps and the Yellowknife Ski Club who this year, are celebrating their 50th anniversary.
1998
1999
First Named Funds
Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, was created and our first two named funds were established; the Fine and Performing Arts Fund and the Jenny Gamble-Fournier Scholarship.
1999
2000
Y2K
Y2K came and went without event and by the end of that year, we had reached nearly $200,000 in our capital fund and things were really getting going. Within the space of two years the Mary Beth Miller Scholarship, the Chris Argue Memorial Fund, the Lilly Borges-Oldham Second Language Scholarship and the Lorraine Minish-Cooper Memorial funds were established. We also were able to make contributions to the Yellowknife Polar Bear Swim Club, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Yellowknife Foster Family Association and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
2000
2003
Celebrating 10 Years
By the time our 10th anniversary rolled around in 2003, Diavik Diamond Mine officially opened, the Tłįchǫ Agreement was signed, the Northern Aviation Scholarship was established and we had provided nearly 40 grants and were closing in on almost 1,000 donors.
2003
2003
Our Watershed Year
Don Hurd had been donating annually to the Foundation since 1995. He had come Yellowknife in 1945 during the gold boom and immediately fell in love in love with the North. When he passed in 2003, he and his late wife’s final gift was a bequest of $1.6 million dollars to the Yellowknife Community Foundation. It had taken us 10 years to reach our first million dollars and the Hurd’s generosity was a powerful catalyst for positive change in Yellowknife.
2003
2004 - 2006
A City Built On Gold
2004 marked a turning point in the history of Yellowknife. While it was still a city built by gold, the final bricks had been poured at both Giant and Con mines and Yellowknife’s golden past had met its brilliant future. Both EKATI and Diavik were in full swing, the population had gone from just over 15,000 in 1991 to nearly 20,000 in 2006 and by the end that same year, we were fast approaching $2 million dollars in our capital fund. The Gary Robinson Memorial Fund was established, the David Sutherland Scholarship was set-up and actor and Yellowknifer Dustin Milligan had established the Enough Talk, Hurry Up and Do It Already Arts Scholarship.
2004 - 2006
2008
Growing At An Extraordinary Pace
Nearly 40 years after the first Arctic Winter Games was hosted in Yellowknife, it was time for the event to return. By the time the torch was lit, the Yellowknife Historical Society and Walter Gibbins Memorial funds were created.
2008
2009
$250,000 In Grants and Scholarships
In the lead up to the 2010 Vancouver Games, the Olympic torch passed through Yellowknife on a 106-day cross-Canada tour. It also marked the beginning of a very busy period for the Foundation, we held our inaugural fundraising gala, given out over $250,000 dollars in grants and scholarships, we supported the T-Bo sculpture at City Hall, the Bailey Transitional House and Aven Cottage in addition to adding an incredible 9 named funds including: The Pat McMahon Memorial Fund; The Aurora College Scholarship; The Elaine (Sweet) Whitford Scholarship; The Jonas Konge Memorial Fund; The John Tumchewics Memorial Fund; The David J Ramsden Memorial Scholarship; The Randy McBride Hockey Project Fund; Helping Children Soar Scholarship and the Con Employees' Benevolent Fund.
2009
2011
Our Largest Donation
By the time 2011 rolled around, we had surpassed the $3-million-dollar mark in our capital fund just in time for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to arrive in Yellowknife, the fourth and most northerly stop on their Canadian tour. We had given over $500,000 dollars in scholarships and grants including our single largest grant at that time to BETTY House, now known as Lynn’s Place.
2011
2012 - 2017
Foundations For The Future
Between 2012 – 2017 we would support Habitat for Humanity NWT, commit $50,000 to the Avens expansion project and continue our 20-year support of the Yellowknife Seniors Society Lunch with a Bunch and the Side Door Youth Centre.

A few years later, the Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine would official open and in 2016 the Con Mine headframe, once a symbol of Yellowknife’s rich gold mining heritage would come down.

On Mars, NASA would name geologic formation in Gale Crater on the planet after the City and back on Earth, the Foundation’s capital was approaching $4 million dollars and we added 9 named funds: Albert Hall Seniors' Enhancement Fund; Barb Bromley Memorial Fund; Diavik Community Scholarship; Douglas Bothamley Memorial Fund; Friends of Fred Carmichael Scholarship; Legislative Assembly Scholarship; Luke Charpentier Memorial Fund; Sally Manning Writing Fund; and Wally12Million Fund.
2012 - 2017
2018
Celebrating 25 Years
It was a decision that was made in 1991 that helped us create the Yellowknife Community Foundation. It was that decision that has lead us on the path that we are on now.

From day one, we have embodied the simple concept that people working together can make a difference. Our mission; to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of Yellowknife and the surrounding area. We’ve distributed over $1 million dollars in grants and scholarships since our inception and our capital fund is fast approaching $5 million dollars. Imagine what we’ll be able to achieve in the next 25 years with your support.
2018
Watch 'The City of Gold' our documentary celebrating 25 years of the Yellowknife Community Foundation.