At our July 4th AGM, the society elected a new board of directors for a one year term. Members of the Board of Directors include Glen Coulthard (YKDFN, Chair), Cheryl Mandeville (Deninu Kue), Lois Edge (Thebacha, Treasurer), Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Anishinaabe, Secretary), Siku Allooloo (Inuit/Taino), Gordie Liske (YKDFN) and Tyler Smith-Tsetta (YKDFN). We are in a period of tremendous growth and have secured multi-year funding for our operations while continuing to be financial supported by the GNWT, Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the McConnell Foundation. The all new all-Indigenous Board of Directors has worked very hard to remain compliant with the NWT Charities Act and has sought appropriate training as per our fiduciary obligations under the Act. The board is meeting regularly and looking forward to an active role in the shaping of Dechinta’s future. We are committed to upholding Dene values, ethics and decision making process in our work in addition to our legal obligations under the Act. To this end, we have hired Humanities Financial Management Inc. to assist us in the expansion of our financial policies and procedures as well as Larry Innes from OKT law and Norton Rose Fullbright (lawyers that specialize in the non-profit sector) to assist us in remaining compliant with the NWT Charities Act and University transition. We look forward to developing an Elders Advisory Council in the near future, in our move towards an Indigenous cooperative governance structure.
We have delivered an unprecedented level of programing in the past 6 months with a full Spring Semester, The Rivers Semester (two six-week canoe trips – one on the Wind/Peel Rivers and one on the Dehcho), and a short course on Indigenous Self-Determination partnered with the University of British Columbia.
This fall, we are continuing to deliver land based education with our community partners, while we work to strengthen our internal administrative capacity. We are also currently engaged in ongoing curriculum development and offering language classes and land based skills classes with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. We are also running a short course on Dene Self-Determination for Indigenous leaders, negotiators and community members in YKDFN in November, 2017. Applications are now open for Winter/Spring 2018, Summer and Fall Semesters. In Fall 2018 we will be offering our first full semester credited by UBC.
We are happy to welcome Gordie Liske from Dettah as our newest Bush Professor. Gordie will be coordinating our land based activities on site, working with our Elders and Dene Knowledge holders and coordinating our fall programing in Dettah.
Aleisha Betsina (YKDFN) also joined our team in Feburary as our Director of Administration and Community Team Lead. Alisha comes to us from the Deton’cho Corporation with a background in human resource management. This fall she is continuing with her training in Indigenous governance and management at the Banff Centre.
Erin Freeland Ballantyne has relocated to Ottawa and will be transitioning out of the Executive Director position and her administrative role but remaining within our organization working on our strategic initiatives and our transition to a university. We will have a new leadership team in place early in the new year.
This past week, Dechinta was host to an international gathering of Indigenous land based educators. This was an excellent opportunity to learn from other Indigenous land based educators from across Canada and from as far away as Hawaii, and to show case our Dene land based model. We also hosted the annual research meeting as one of several northern partners of a multi-million dollar SSHRC grant on sustainable water governance and Indigenous law read more at www.decolonizingwater.ca.
Partnership with UBC
We hope to be announcing the formalization of our accreditation partnership with UBC in the near future, which will enhance the self-determination of Northern Indigenous and non-Indigenous students that wish to pursue post-secondary education.