Chekoa Nı̨ htł’èkǫ ̨̀ Deè

Dechinta’s integrated University and youth programming removes barriers to education for northern learners, and ensures safe and culturally relevant programming is delivered alongside innovative university level courses.


Dechinta’s model of program delivery is innovative and responsive to the needs of diverse learners. We offer a setting where families can learn together through our Chekoa Nı̨ htł’èkǫ ̨̀ Deè (KidsU) program where children are invited to attend semesters with their parent(s) and learn on the land. This has become one of the most vital components of our Dechinta model as many students, particularly single mothers, opt to bring their children with them, thus providing a platform for strengthening family bonds.


Culture and connection to land are at the heart of the pedagogy, centering embodied and kinetic learning, cultural identity, history, and community wellness as the foundation of all learning. In a study conducted to inform the development of Dechinta, lack of childcare, cost, and not wanting to remove children from culturally safe and relevant environments was the number one reason Indigenous women in the NWT cited for not attending, or dropping out of, post- secondary schooling. In response, Dechinta offers integrated K-12 childcare during programs at no extra cost. Our KidsU program is rooted in child-led learning and the Dene Kede curriculum. In Dechinta’s nine years of proven results, we feel the integration of child care into our program and the resulting family and community centered learning environment is one of the key elements in making post- secondary education accessible to First Nations and Inuit students.

KidsU Instructors

Justina Black – Justina grandfather was a T’satsaot’ine dene and her grandmother was a Tlicho Dene who were born and raised in Denendeh, which means she has strong roots to the land through them. Justina was born and raised in Somba Ke Denendeh and is a proud member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Justina attended a small Aboriginal community school of no more than 100 students from Kindergarten up until high school, so her entire educational journey has been from a holistic perspective in land-based education and strongly rooted in her Dene values and traditions. Justina’s roles within Dechinta have varied over the years from a student, to alumni, to KidsU facilitator, to summer student, to a society member.

Kristen (Jiah) Sibbeston – Jiah Dzentu is a Deh Cho and Denesuline Dene working with Dechinta as a KidsU instructor. Passionate about passing on language and culture to the younger generation, Dechinta offers a rich environment to do so.