About Dechinta

In Community, On the Land, For the Future

Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning is a community-led initiative delivering land-based, University of Alberta and University of British Columbia-credited educational experiences led by Indigenous northern leaders, experts, elders and professors to engage students in a transformative curricula rooted in Indigenous knowledge, values and laws.

The Dechinta experience is an educational experience like no other. Learning from the land while living in community is central to the Dechinta experience. Gather around a fire on buffalo fur to discuss Dene Political Theory, ski or canoe to check fish nets while gaining hands on experience of Indigenous theory. Collect medicines and learn regional Indigenous history from local expert elders. Contemplate the importance of land to community and life with a diverse group of students, instructors, and elders. Live in canvas tents heated by woodstove, sleep on ori (spruce bough) under the northern lights or midnight sun. Hunting, fishing and wild harvesting are integrated into the curriculum, led by dynamic and diverse Indigenous faculty with direct experience in research and leadership in subject areas.

Dechinta offers the opportunity to:
  • Learn about the environment, politics and history of Denendeh / Northwest Territories from Indigenous experts, leading professors, local leaders and elders in a co-teaching environment
  • Conduct your own research both at Dechinta and in your home community with guidance and support from staff and faculty
  • Become part of a self-governing community
  • Engage in hands on aspects of community sustainability such as harvesting, medicines and sustainability
  • Travel seasonally by ski, canoe, snowmobile and dog team through the boreal forest and over glacial waters
  • Enjoy abundant wildlife such as moose, caribou, waterfowl, lynx, hares, wolverines and bears
  • Visit self-governing communities and learn from local leaders about the process of implementing governance structures
  • Become apart of the Dechinta Alumni networking community and leverage research and grant opportunities
  • Obtain accreditation from the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia that can be applied to interdisciplinary programs and are transferable under the Western Dean’s Agreement
What does Dechinta offer that is not met by current educational institutions?
  • Above all, Dechinta offers uniquely Northern and Indigenous course offerings – courses taught by Northern leaders, about the Northern context, with an agenda set by Northerners, supported by leading professors with relevant experience. New in 2018 is the University of British Columbia Certificate in Community & Indigenous Research which aims to train the next generation of Traditional knowledge holders
  • All Dechinta courses are recognized nationally and internationally as a leading model for Indigenous education that is unique and unprecedented worldwide.
  • Dechinta courses are delivered on the land where students are completely submersed in Indigenous culture. Our program provides integrated community and educational experience away from urban centres and has been praised by alumni as a life changing educational experience that provides a well rounded learning environment.
  • Student at Dechinta learn self-governance by hunting and gathering with the guidance of Indigenous Elder teachings. Students are offered individualized support in a whole-person pedagogy which creates an overall healthy educational experience focusing on the well-being of students.
  • Child-care and family-living are an integral aspect of Dechinta and students are encouraged to bring their families with them to join them in their learning experience.
  • Dechinta offers university-accredited courses and land-based educational learning opportunities that are not currently accessible in the north through our partnering universities, however Dechinta is working on creating a path forward to eventually becoming an independent publicly funded university in the future.
Long-Term Goals
  • Creating substantial opportunities for a knowledge economy by contributing significantly to robust research and workplace initiatives that factors in education, culture and a sustainable future
  • Provide a platform that allows Indigenous northern students to accessibly enter into post-secondary programs which boost the rates and fills the gaps of Indigenous northern post-secondary graduates thus contributing to the NWT labour force
  • Supporting all students to lead and achieve through a transformative land-based educational experience.


Dechinta supports students at all points on their educational path, from start to finish.

Entrance is based on interviews by staff and faculty; admission requirements are based on life-experience, willingness to learn and dedication.


Dechinta is a legacy project that demonstrates commitment to the enhanced capacity and ability of Indigenous communities to fully participate in protecting sovereignty through enhanced human capacity and northern involvement in international circumpolar leadership.

Dechinta has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leading charity that recognizes the need to invest in the future of the north through empowering a culture of education and innovative initiatives that are results driven, land based and ensure relevant post-secondary education is accesible to all students choosing a unique ground breaking learning option.