#ImmigrationMatters in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

From landscaper to volunteer firefighter, to a paramedic and founder of a dance troupe, there is very little that Louis Gaëtan hasn’t done for his community since his arrival in Yellowknife in 2012.

Inspiring a city through the power of dance

Louis Gaëtan, Multicultural Dance Gala in 2018.

Born in Madagascar, Louis Gaëtan is saving lives as a paramedic, and bringing the community together through the rhythm of multicultural music and dance.

It’s as a landscaper that Louis became aware of Yellowknife’s cultural diversity. The openness of the locals helped him integrate quickly, and he contributed to his new community by volunteering for a number of Francophone projects in the region.

In 2014, Louis gave his time as a volunteer firefighter. He said that people help each other out and are not individualistic in spite of the size of the city, and he appreciates this very much. Because he wanted to expand his skills and give back to others, Louis began a paramedic course in 2016, and has been working full time as a firefighter-paramedic since then. His work is in line with his values, but his interest in other cultures led him to get involved in a more recreational project.

“He gives 300% of himself in everything he does, with great enthusiasm. He shines, he’ll go far: he has what it takes.”

Angélique Ruzindana Umunyana, who met Louis through her involvement with the Fédération franco-ténoise

Louis co-founded the Yellowknife Community of Dance in 2016, in order to promote the multicultural wealth of this region. The troupe provides free dance lessons inspired by various cultures and organizes a dance gala that brings together 300 people every year. It is one of the city’s biggest events.

The mayor of Yellowknife, Rebecca Alty, acknowledges the excitement this event creates in the community. “Although there is a lot of diversity in Yellowknife, the annual dance gala has been a great way to publicly celebrate the many cultures in our community. Louis was able to fill that gap. He was able to showcase cultures from all over the world through the creation of the dance group.”

Jean Tuyishime, French Services Coordinator at the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, agreed and said that such an event “was missing in Yellowknife. It created a link between the Francophone community and other communities. It gave Francophone and immigrant communities greater visibility because it featured world cultures. He brought the cultural standard up to another level.”

More than just dancing, the dancers use the opportunity of their weekly meetings to create relationships and share advice. The mayor acknowledges that Yellowknife is lucky to have such a positive and humble resident in their community. Louis is always working on various projects for the well-being of the citizens.

Immigration profile: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants in Yellowknife represent almost 15% of the population.
  • The Philippines is the biggest source country of immigrants in Yellowknife, followed by the United Kingdom and Vietnam.
  • More than half (53%) of all immigrants to Yellowknife between 1980 and 2016 came as economic immigrants while a third (33%) were sponsored by family and nearly 13% were refugees.

Did you know?

  • In Yellowknife, more immigrants have arrived from Africa than all of North and South America.

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