Dechinta students share success stories
Northern News Services
Published Friday, Oct. 26, 2012
After 12 weeks of on the land and academic study, seven students are the latest to graduate from the Dechinta Bush University, and they are raving about the program.
Past graduate Kristen Tanche and Brooke Hope were so impressed by what they learned, that both are considering enrolling in post secondary programs at the popular NWT university.
The university, located at Blachford Lake Lodge, about 20 minutes from Yellowknife by charter plane, offers Northern and aboriginal courses – courses which are “taught by Northern leaders, about the Northern context, with an agenda set by Northerners, supported by leading professors with relevant experience,” according to Dechinta’s website.
Courses this semester included self-determination in theory and in practice, health promotion, sustainable community development, traditional leadership, community-based research methodologies and community governance.
The opportunity to learn history and traditional languages impressed Tanche the most.
“I wanted to take Dechinta ever since it opened,” said Tanche, a financial officer with Simpson Air. She said the program exposed her to, “A lot of history of the Northwest Territories at the academic level, which you don’t really get that at other post secondary schools.”
Remaining true to traditional Dene learning, and revisiting traditional language was also a draw for Tanche.
Hope, currently living in Yellowknife and hoping to enrol in another Dechinta program, enjoyed the hands on aspect to academic work.
“It was cool to have elders out there, and being able to build relationships with the professors … we learned a lot about self-governing and self-determination,” Hope said.
Seven students graduated this fall, and according to Hope and Tanche, the experience is one that everyone should experience.
“I think it’s important for people to know the history and where you come from,” Hope said.
The Northern university has received many academic nods this past year, including the Ashoka Changemakers Award for Education Innovation from the Royal Bank of Canada.
The award recognizes innovation in leadership and educational programming.
An MA Student is required for a 1-2 year commitment to assist with tasks and activities associated with a SSHRC-funded research project focused on researching and evaluating land-based university programming.
This successful candidate will be an Indigenous MA Student, or Indigenous student currently in a second-degree professional program. Preference will be given to Indigenous students from the Northwest Territories (Dene, Metis and Inuvialuit).
Dechinta land-based university is located at Blachford Lake Lodge, 220km east of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, on the Chief Drygeese traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene. The program blends land based cultural activities and knowledge with university courses accredited by university partners. Courses are co-taught by Indigenous knowledge holders and university professors. The purpose of the program is to provide students with a university level learning experience grounded in Indigenous cosmologies and cultural practice.
The MA Student will be expected to assist the principal investigator with developing the institutional model for Dechinta through:
Expectations associated with this position will be identified through a work plan and be consistent with SSHRC guidelines for research student funding. Remuneration for this position is $12,000.00 per year.
CLOSING DATE: March 15, 2012
Please direct inquiries to:
Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, PhD
Principal Investigator, Dechinta Partnership Development Grant
Send resumes with a cover letter and names of three references to:
Program Manager, Dechinta
Effective, culturally relevant educational programming in Northern Canada has proven elusive at all levels of the educational system. At the post-secondary level, Northern colleges provide essential vocational training, but they rely on partnerships with southern universities to provide some access to degree programs to northern students unable to leave the North. Canada remains the only circumpolar country without a Northern-based university. Yet the need for a well-educated northern population is great, and growing. Faced with unique challenges ranging from climate change and Arctic sovereignty to Indigenous social, economic and political development, the future of North will depend on the capacity of residents to think critically and act wisely in the stewardship of Northern lands and resources.
Dechinta Bush University is based on the vision and commitment of a group of Northern based scholars and southern university supporters seeking to establish a Northern university that draws on Northern strengths: Indigenous cultures, connection to the land, and the necessity for innovating to address unique northern circumstances. This project will see up to 225 graduate students receiving instruction through land-based hands on learning from up to 90 academic instructors and land-based experts in bush-camp settings, supported by several well-established southern universities and Northern Aboriginal, cultural and research organizations.
The program speaks directly to the needs and aspirations of both students and Northern communities: its aim is to produce a cohort of Northern Indigenous students positioned to respond to their community needs through the unique training they will receive at Dechinta.
Conceptualized on a tutoring/apprenticeship pedagogical approach grounded in critical Indigenous educational methodologies, Dechinta offers an environment where Indigenous cultural skills and knowledge provide the basis for developing twenty university-accredited courses. The plethora of issues facing the North today – from climate change to self government – require that decision and policy makers working in communities are increasingly required to function effectively across a range of knowledge sectors.
Small Indigenous communities are beginning to achieve wide-ranging powers to govern under land claims and self government agreements, at the same time that they are struggling to overcome effects of colonization and face global challenges. Tomorrow’s leaders and policy-makers face a complexity of information assimilation and decision making unparalleled in history.
At the same time communities are increasingly relying on their cultural confidence in their Indigenous knowledge as a source of strength and guidance in making decisions. And as these communities achieve a level of self-government, they are anxious to see their children acquire the education and skills necessary to replace a transient non-Indigenous population which currently predominates among the decision making elite. Dechinta represents an opportunity to share in building a unique land-based learning experience that will stand as a model approach to Indigenous and Northern education throughout the circumpolar world.
After two and half years of dedicated service to the growth of Dechinta, Kyla has taken the amazing opportunity of Team Leader Community Development at BHP Billiton. Dechinta has been honoured to work with Kyla, whose innovation and determination has been essential to Dechinta.
Mahsi Cho Kyla!
To build on our initial successes over the past two years, Dechinta is looking to expand and strengthen our Board of Directors. We are seeking accomplished and visionary northerners with broad-based expertise to advise us. Mid to late-career professionals from all sectors are invited to share their expertise.
This is an exciting volunteer opportunity, helping to shape the development and evolution of an unique land-based postsecondary program. One, two, or three year terms are available. A letter outlining your relevant experience and expertise, and how you see yourself contributing to the Dechinta vision should be submitted by September 30, 2011.
For more information and a complete list of roles and responsibilities, please contact Kyla Kakfwi Scott, Program Manager, email@example.com | 867.445.1897
Dechinta is honoured to announce our success in securing two SSHRC (Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada) grants:
A $183,000 SSHRC Partnership Development Grant over three years led by Dr. Stephanie Irlbacher Fox, (University of Toronto, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Dechinta Faculty) and Marianne Douglas (Canadian Circumpolar Institute) and various northern and southern collaborative partners.
A SSHRC Partnership Grant led by investigators Dr. Glen Coulthard (University of British Columbia, Yellowknife Dene First Nation) and Erin Freeland Ballantyne (Oxford University, Dechinta) with partners including the Indigenous Governance Programme of the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Deton’Cho Corporation, McGill University, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Native Communications Society, Department of Education, Culture, and Employment (GNWT), and Northern and National First Nation researchers have been granted $20,000 towards the preparation of a final submission. The project would result in 2.4M in support of northern innovation opportunities from 2012-2016. These collaborative projects explore consensus, self-determination, health, resilience, sustainable economic development and community wellness rooted through a land-based cooperative research and innovation program.
Dechinta Bush University: Centre for Research and Learning is committed to providing transformative educational experiences, rigorous academic programming, and a culturally rooted community environment. Those interested in collaborating or for more information, please contact:
Program Manager Kyla Kakfwi-Scott
1-877-388-2874 (toll free)
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