Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 17, 2023

Yellowknife Evacuation Routes

The town of Enterprise, NWT, Canada, was 90 percent destroyed by a wildfire. Photo Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Photo courtesy Paul Flamand. 
Flamand, a father-of-three from Enterprise fled north to the community of Wrigley. Flamand runs a plumbing business in the community of 100 people where nearly every building was consumed by flames earlier this week. “I lost my house, a couple of shops. Everything I’ve worked for and worked on, all my projects, Global News reports.

Yellowknife Under Evacuation

By Cabin Radio
Evacuation Routes by Air and Land (see list below)

Update: Thursday 5 pm local time, August 17, 2023

A wildfire threatening Kakisa has triggered an evacuation order, plunging the NWT further into a fire-driven crisis of extraordinary scale.

As Yellowknife’s 20,000 people evacuated over a separate fire, Kakisa’s 36 residents – far to the south but on the same highway system – were ordered to head west to Fort Simpson, away from most of the column of Yellowknifers heading south to Alberta.

Kakisa would ordinarily evacuate to Hay River, but Hay River is itself fully evacuated with an oncoming fire blocking highway access. Fort Smith, Enterprise and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation are also under evacuation orders.

YELLOWKNIFE, NWT, Canada -- The Northwest Territories’ capital is emptying out after government officials said they had until Friday to get out before wildfires could overrun the area.

While the forecast isn’t certain, the territory’s wildfire agency said that if rain does not materialize on Thursday, a wildfire 16 kilometres west of Yellowknife could reach its outskirts by the weekend – and another fire could reach homes along the Ingraham Trail, northeast of the city, by Friday.

Ingraham Trail residents, residents of Dettah to the east of Yellowknife, and people living on Yellowknife’s western edge were told to get out now – on Wednesday night if they could – in an announcement that came early on Wednesday evening.

An evacuation order declared that night means the city of more than 20,000 people is pouring into the one highway south, Highway 3, which leads through the wildfire’s burn area and past the active fire to safety in Alberta or British Columbia.

An airlift begins on Thursday for anyone without vehicles.

Our evacuee supports page is here with anything we see that offers assistance to people leaving as they make their way to safety.

Meanwhile, a fire is now 10 kilometres south of the town of Hay River on the other side of Great Slave Lake. Hay River was evacuated on Sunday but some residents remain. Efforts to keep the fire out of the town continue.

Fort Smith, similarly, has a wildfire four kilometres from its doorstep and was evacuated over the weekend. Firefighters continue to try to hold that fire at bay and protect the community.

NWT Government: Evacuating Yellowknife by Air

Only residents who do not have the option to leave the area by road are asked to register for evacuation flights.
Residents who are immunocompromised or have a condition that puts them at higher risk of severe outcomes are encouraged to register for flights as soon as possible due to intensifying smoke in the region.
Air evacuations are scheduled to begin at 1pm Thursday, August 17, 2023.
Residents will be asked to present, with their baggage, at Sir John Franklin High School after 10:00 AM Thursday August 17, 2023.
Evacuation flights to Calgary are currently scheduled to depart from the Yellowknife Airport at:1:00PM

Note that this schedule is subject to change. Residents wanting to board an evacuation flight must register at Sir John Franklin High School. Passengers on evacuation flights will be shuttled from Sir John Franklin High School. Do not go to the airport.

Due to space and weight limitations, bag size is limited to standard carry-on. Passengers are asked to bring no more than 5 days’ worth of clothing, as well as essentials such as medication, chargers and important family documents including identification, insurance and bank records.

Residents are also asked to bring snacks and a water bottle with them as there may be an extended time between registration and arrival at the evacuation destination.
Pets will be permitted on all flights, with the following restrictions:On commercial carriers, pets must be crated.

On Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, pets should be crated whenever possible. If crates are not available, cats must be harnessed, dogs must be leashed and both must be held as close as possible at all times. Other pets must be contained in appropriate cages.

If you are on a regularly scheduled commercial flight, check your flight status and follow your airline's pre-boarding procedures before proceeding to the airport. Ensure you have ample time to check in.We know that the airport is continuing with regularly scheduled flights until at least Friday at noon.

Evacuating Yellowknife by Water

Evacuating by boat to an island or cabin is NOT recommended. With fires in the area air quality is expected to decline. DO NOT evacuate to an island or cabin on Great Slave Lake.

Sheltering in PlaceSheltering in place is a last resort for residents who are unable to evacuate by road or by air.

If residents do not have a place in Yellowknife to stay, like their own or a friend’s home, they can present at the Multiplex and shelter there.

All residents arriving at the evacuation centers will be asked to register upon entering.
If you are not intending to stay at the Multiplex, you can register online at the GNWT’s registration portal. You do not need to present at the Multiplex. The registration portal can be found here:

Due to space limitations, residents are asked to bring no more than 5 days’ worth of clothing, as well as blankets, sleeping bags, or other bedding, as well as essentials such as medication, chargers and important family documents.

The shelters will have food resources available, however residents are asked to bring non-perishable snacks and/or additional food items for themselves and their families.
Pets will not be permitted at the Multiplex. Space is available for residents who are sheltering in place with pets can camp with their pets at the Old Town Parking Lot and Rotary Park.

Please carpool or be dropped off at the shelters to avoid exceeding parking capacity.
These shelters are a temporary measure and all residents who are planning to shelter in place are asked to act with kindness towards their community members. Please offer support to your friends and neighbors, like car rides or additional supplies, and be respectful.

General Highway Information Visit the Highway Conditions Map for the NWT current highways status
Wildfires in the NWT mean highways could close with little or no advance notice.

Highway 1 - OPEN

Highway 2 - CLOSED

Highway 3 - OPEN

Highway 5 - CLOSED

Jean Marie River access road - CLOSED
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General Airport Information

Hay River Airport: Airport access restricted to medevac and evacuation operations only (with prior permission) until further notice.

Fort Smith Airport: Airport access restricted to medevac and evacuation operations only (with prior permission) until further notice.

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