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The Northwest Territories offers a lifestyle that will help you and your family be happy and healthy. We offer a unique daily life that is more relaxed than most and is largely free from annoyances like traffic jams and air pollution.

Once you have decided to move from your home country it will mean many changes and lots of decisions will need to be made. This section will help you make your move to the Northwest Territories as simple as possible.

I have a great network of friends. We socialize a lot together. Being here on my own, away from my family, my friends have become my family and that’s been really important, and necessary to being comfortable here in the North, which I love.

- Helen W. - 

The Northwest Territories experiences a large range of temperatures between summer and winter. Most regions of the Northwest Territories have a sub-arctic climate, which means short, warm summers followed by quickly dropping temperatures in the fall. Summer temperatures typically range from 14 C to 24 C and winter temperatures stay between -20 and -40 C (and sometimes a bit colder, but it doesn’t usually last too long).

With such a range of temperatures and weather throughout the year, it is important to know what the seasons are and what type of clothing you will need, especially in winter.

Winter

Winter may not officially begin until late December, but in most of the Northwest Territories, the snow season extends from late October to late April. In the coldest part of the season, temperatures range between -20 and -40 C, so it is important to be prepared. There’s a saying up here that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. That’s why it’s important to make good clothing choices for winter. This is also the time of year when people from around the world come to visit us to see our shimmering aurora as the winter brings dark and often clear skies.

Spring

Spring is a messy, short season in late April and May that features rapidly warming temperatures, melting snow and the beginning of the ice break-up on rivers and lakes. Temperatures range from -15 C to 10 C.

Sunglasses are useful as the days lengthen and the sun reaches higher in the sky and reflects off the still-present snow.  Many days, you will still need warm coats, hats, mittens or gloves, and boots but not as heavy as those in winter.

Summer

As early summer arrives in late May, lighter clothes can be worn. Be prepared to wear insect repellant to keep the bugs away. In summer, a light jacket will do as temperatures in many locales reach into the mid to high 20s C. Summer is an energetic, magical time in the Northwest Territories and the season features very long days, including some in which the sun’s glow can still be seen at midnight.

Fall

Fall arrives rapidly and doesn’t last long. As the days shorten and the sun drops lower in the sky, be prepared for quickly cooling temperatures as September and October arrive. It is common to have the first snowfall in mid-October. Your warm spring clothing will be needed again for the autumn.

 

When you arrive in the Northwest Territories you may need some help to find and access programs and services. Settlement and Integration program providers can assist you with your job search, applying for healthcare, opening a bank account and much more.   

Aurora College
Integration Programs and Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC)
867-920-3279

Integration programs and LINC are available to permanent residents, persons whose applications for permanent residency is being processed, those who follow under the Live-in-Caregiver program, and convention refugees. These services are available through the Yellowknife Aurora College Campus.  

Fédération Franco-Ténoise (services in French)
Integration Programs
867-920-2919 ext 262

Conseil de développement économique des Territoires du Nord-Ouest
Employment services in French
867-873-5962

The Canada Health Act ensures that all residents have access to hospital and physician services based on need, not on ability to pay. The Northwest Territories also provides a range of services beyond the Canada Health Act's basic provisions.

A person must be a resident to be eligable for Northwest Territories (NWT) Health Care.

You will need to apply for a Northwest Territories Health Care Card. To apply, pick up a form at a hospital, health clinic or health centre, or call 1-800-661-0830.

Health care facilities

Stanton Territorial Hospital, located in Yellowknife, is the major health and referral centre for the Northwest Territories. There is also a regional hospital in Inuvik. Most other communities in the Northwest Territories have local health centres and clinics that can be contacted if you need to see a health professional.

Accessing health care services

Health and Social Services, a department of the Government of the Northwest Territories, is responsible for promoting healthy choices; protecting public health; preventing illness and disease; and protecting children and people at risk from abuse. 

More Information:

Please note: if you need to contact emergency responders, 911 services are not available in the Northwest Territories.

To contact the police station in your community, dial the first three digits of the local phone number followed by 1111. For example, to contact the police in Jean Marie River, dial 695-1111. The number for the police in Tulita would be 588-1111 and in Inuvik, 777-1111.

If you need an ambulance or if there is a fire, use the first three digits of the local phone number followed by 2222.

Emergency Numbers for communities in the Northwest Territories

Home to 49 schools and more than 700 teachers, the Northwest Territories offers first-class educational opportunities. Eight regional education boards serve students from diverse cultural backgrounds and languages. The City of Yellowknife has public, Catholic and French school systems. French immersion is provided from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. There are two Francophone schools in Yellowknife, and one in Hay River.

In the Northwest Territories, boys and girls are taught together in the same classroom. Teachers generally have at least one university degree and advanced training in education. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is responsible for overseeing the curriculum and education for children attending Kindergarten to Grade 12 in the Northwest Territories.

It is definitely beneficial for my son to go to the local school…the educational system here, we have quite a wide range of schools to choose from: French immersion, Catholic schools, public schools. And they all offer great facilities too… In a different province, you have a designated school for your area and here you can go to any school you want….That’s great. There is no restriction with that.

- Viktor T. - 

Post secondary education

Aurora College is the primary post-secondary institution in the Northwest Territories and offers a range of courses in diploma, pre-apprenticeship, degree and continuing education programs. The college has three regional campuses: Aurora Campus in Inuvik, Thebacha Campus in Fort Smith, and Yellowknife/North Slave Campus in Yellowknife. Aurora College also offers programming through its Community Learning Centres, which are located in most communities in the territory.

The Northwest Territories has an excellent Student Financial Assistance program that provides funding for residents who are attending post-secondary schools. Northwest Territories students are eligible for generous loans and grants, and may even qualify to have their loans forgiven just for returning to live in the territory after graduation.

The NWT Education, Training & Employment Guide also provides information on training and educational opportunities in the territory.

Care for preschool age children is available through government-licensed daycares and day homes, with some schools providing pre-kindergarten classes.

The Early Childhood Program of the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment is responsible for the development, implementation and monitoring of standards for licensed early childhood programs.

People use both air travel and the highway system to connect with different communities in the territories, the rest of the country and abroad.

During the summer, some communities can only be accessed by airplane. However, in the winter, when lakes and rivers have frozen, roads are built on the ice. The Northwest Territories has 2,200 kilometres of all-weather roads and 2,100 kilometres of ice roads. Information about ferries, winter roads and general highway conditions can be found through the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation. Most communities have taxi services, and regular bus service exists in Yellowknife.

Northwest Territories driver’s license

If you are going to drive a vehicle, you will need a driver’s license for the Northwest Territories. Information on driver licensing in the Northwest Territories along with the requirements to obtain a driver’s license as a newcomer are available at license and vehicle registration locations found in communities throughout the territories.

The Department of Transportation offers helpful tips on rules of the road and common driving practices as well as suggestions for new driver training.

Note: if you need a government-issued photo ID but don’t have or need a driver’s license, you can apply for a General Identification Card at the same place that issues Northwest Territories driver's licenses.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada can also help answer questions and provide guidance related to banking and finances.

If you lose your job or have another financial hardship, it may be possible to receive temporary financial support. The Government of Canada’s Benefits Finder will help you determine which programs may apply to your situation.

Sales tax

There is no territorial sales tax. You still pay the federal GST (5 percent).

Income tax

All workers in Canada must also pay income tax to the Canada Revenue Agency. Northwest Territories residents enjoy some of the lowest personal income tax rates in Canada. Common paycheque deductions include income tax, Canada pension plan, employment insurance, and health care.

Tax incentives

There are tax incentives offered to live in the Northwest Territories to help offset a higher cost of living compared to other areas of the country. There are a number of government programs designed to support northern communities, such as the Northern Residents Tax Deduction

Newcomers should become familiar with the legal system and laws at the local, territorial and national levels. The Department of Justice provides information on what to expect if you have to go to court.  In the Northwest Territories less serious offences may also be diverted away from the traditional court system, and referred to Community Justice Committees. If you are financially eligible or are on income support, there are free Legal Aid services that may be provided through The Legal Services Board of the Northwest Territories.

Victim Services

Victim Services provides emotional support, information and referrals to victims of crime and tragedy. Services include court accompaniment and preparation, support through RCMP statements, help with Victim Impact Statements, information about the criminal justice system, emotional support, crisis intervention, and referrals.  See the Victim Services Contact List for information on services in your community. 

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms defines and protects individual rights and freedoms in the Northwest Territories.  

In the Northwest Territories, every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights. To help protect and to promote respect for and knowledge of our equality rights, the Northwest Territories Human Rights Act established three separate and independent entities.

  1. Do I need to be employed to apply for the NWT Nominee Program?

    Yes, the Northwest Territories Nominee Program requires your employer to make the application for your Nomination. A foreign national must already be employed in or have a valid job offer for a full time permanent position in the Northwest Territories.

  2. What settlement funds are required by the foreign national to be eligible for the Northwest Territories Nominee Program?

    Foreign nationals are required to demonstrate that they have $10,000 per person, and an additional $2,000 for each accompanying dependent in their bank account.

  3. How can I apply for a Canadian work permit? 

    To apply for a Canadian work permit, you need to contact the federal governments department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. For more information about work permits visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/e-services/mycic.asp

  4. Do I need an immigration representative?

    It is your choice if you have an immigration representative act on your behalf with the NWT Nominee Program. It is not required. An immigration representative may be a lawyer, an immigration consultant, or a family member and may be paid or unpaid for their involvement.

  5. How long must a foreign national be employed before an employer can apply to the NWT Nominee Program?

    Foreign nationals applying under the Critical Impact Worker Stream must be employed in their position for a minimum of six months. The Skilled Worker Stream and Express Entry System do not have minimum time requirements.

  6. Is there a language requirement for the NWT Nominee Program?

    Foreign nationals applying under the Critical Impact Worker Stream must submit a valid language test to demonstrate they meet language standards.

  7. Will the Northwest Territories prioritize applications where a work permit is close to expiry?

    No. The Northwest Territories does not grant priority processing for applications where work permits are due to expire soon. It is not guaranteed that an application will be assessed prior to a work permit expiry. Employers and foreign nationals are responsible for maintaining legal status to work in Canada.

  8. I am a student or recent graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution, am I eligible to apply under the Northwest Territories Nominee Program?

    The Northwest Territories does not have a program stream specific to recent graduates. Foreign nationals must have a valid work permit and be currently employed or have a valid job offer in the Northwest Territories. Your employer in the Northwest Territories can submit an application to the NWT Nominee Program, if both the foreign national and employer meet all eligibility criteria.