• Spring Update 2018

    • March 22, 2018

    Dechinta Community Update

    March 2018


    Staffing Update

    We are very excited to announce the addition of two new brilliant people to our Yellowknife Office.  Catherine Lafferty (YKDFN), joined our team as Director of Community and Indigenous Education in January.  Catherine is a Dene woman from the Northwest Territories, her First Nation affiliation is with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation for which she sits on the Chief and Council as a council member. Catherine is a strong advocate for Indigenous empowerment in and around the North.


    Catherine’s post-secondary educational background started when she received a certificate in Aboriginal Child and Family Services in 2006. In 2013 she received a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies from Royal Roads University. Catherine considers herself a lifelong learning and is a strong advocate for tackling Indigenous issues, particularly in the north and she is a visionary, motivated to create positive changes in her community and inspire others to follow their dreams. She is a mother of two children who are first and foremost in her life. In her spare time, Catherine devotes her energy into her love of writing.


    We are also excited to welcome Dr. Kelsey Wrightson, as our Transitional Director of Policy and Programming. Kelsey grew up in Edmonton Alberta, and completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2015. After finishing school, she worked for a year with Dylan Robinson at Queen’s University in the Centre for Indigenous Arts, and then returned to UBC and worked for 2 years in research grant administration. She is very excited to move to Somba’ke and work with the impressive team at Dechinta, and is especially looking forward to working on language and arts programming.


    Kelsey and Catherine are highly organized and present in our Yellowknife office managing the logistics of all of our programming, often assisted by Justina Black (YKDFN) and Jiah Dezentu (Denesuline-Deh Cho Dene) and more of our brilliant alumni as needed.


    Gordie Liske (YKDFN) remains active as our Dene land based professor and coordinator of land based activities.

    We are also happy to welcome Madeline Whetung to the Spring 2018 semester as our Land-Based Coordinator.  She is currently completing a PhD in Geography through UBC in the Coastal territory of the Skwxwu7mesh, Tsleil-Waututh, and Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm. She is a citizen of the Nishnaabeg nation and a member of Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario. She has extensive land-based education experience and we are honoured she’ll be supporting and mentoring our students on site this spring.


    New Office

    We’ve moved! We are now located at the old Dene nation office at 5125 50th Street in Yellowknife. We had a wonderful open house on March 1 with many alumni and families attending. Please stop by for a visit to hear about our new programming!


    Regional Programming

    We have now completed programing in the Dehcho, Sahtu, and Gwich’in regions in addition to continuing programming at home base on the Yellowknives Dene First Nation territory.  Over the next two years, we have programming planned in the Kaska Dena, Sahtu and the Dehcho and look forward to working with communities in other regions to meet their post-secondary based education needs.


    Spring Semester

    We are heading out on the land with all of our wonderful new students on April 15! We will be leaving Somba’ke by snowmobile and heading out to Blachford Lake Lodge for 12 weeks of on-site programming.  


    We are so grateful to our Elders for their on-going support and tremendous knowledge of the land.  This semester we will be joined on site by Paul McKenzie (YKDFN), Berna Martin (YKDFN), Ethel Lamothe (Liidli Kue), Sam Gargan (Zhahti Koe) and Celine Marlowe (Lutsel K’e). Gordie Liske (YKDFN) will be joining us on site as one of our bush professors and coordinating the land based practices which will include hunting, fishing, dry fish making, medicines, moose hide tanning, drum making, language instruction and ceremony.


    For the academic component of our program we’re joined by Dr. Glen Coulthard (YKDFN, University of British Columbia), Dr. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Nishnaabe, Ryerson University), Dr. Lois Edge (Fort Smith, Aurora College) and Dr. Erin Freeland Ballantyne.  We are also grateful to several guest professors this semester including Lianne Charlie (Tagé Cho Hudän (Big River People), Northern Tutchone, Yukon College), Dr. Heidi Stark (Anishinaabe, University of Victoria), and Dr. Michelle Daigle (Mushkegowuk, Constance Lake First Nation, University of British Columbia).



    We have an exciting program of on the land activities planned for the spring session of KidsU including sewing vests, bush bags and wrap arounds, photography, story-telling and theatre, snare setting, dry fish, duck plucking, and lots of Tlicho language! Our KidsU program is run by two of our alumni, Justina Black (YKDFN) and Jiah Dzentu (Denesuline-Deh Cho Dene), who are so much FUN, we often forget we are learning!


    Alumni Recruitment Tour

    Two of our brilliant alumni, Justina Black (YKDFN) and Miriam Giroux (Inuit) recently hit the road visiting the communities of Fort Providence, Hay River, and Fort Smith.  They presented to high schools students on our programming and met many future Dechinta students.


    Summer Semester 2018

    Continuing our strong commitment to regional programming, we are partnering with the Kaska Dena in the Yukon for a semester at Dechenla Lodge and on the lands of the Kaska and Sahtu peoples.  Applications are available on our website.


    Fall Semester 2018

    We are back in Yellowknives Dene Territory for the fall and we’re looking forward to hunting and picking cranberries.  Applications are available on our website.


    Partnership with The University of British Columbia

    Dr. Glen Coulthard (YKDFN)  has been busy getting working towards our “Dechinta Community and Land Based Research Certificate” receiving accreditation from the University of British Columbia. This certificate is part of a unique partnership between First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Dechinta.  The certificate offers students an experiential, intensive land-based program in Denendeh while earning a UBC certificate. Students will be immersed in courses that integrate academic instruction with land-based learning such as moose hide tanning, fishing, gathering medicine, and storytelling, all according to Dene knowledge and tradition. We are hoping to offer this certificate in the Fall of 2018.


    Down the Dehcho:  A Short Film

    Lesley Johnson and Amos Scott (Tlicho Dene) have  been busy working on a short documentary of our Summer 2017 trip down the Dehcho River from Fort Providence to Fort Good Hope.  Look for the short film on the internet in the near future, and we’re planning some community screenings so stay tuned!