(Dechinta students and faculty via Northern Clipper, 15 July 2011) -- During their recent tour of Canada, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Blachford Lake Lodge on the traditional and unceded territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The July 5 stopover began with demonstrations by the 1st Canadian Rangers Patrol Group, composed mainly of Inuit members. From there, the royals began a tour of Dechinta Bush University Centre for Research and Learning. Dechinta is a post-secondary education initiative providing Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with much-needed opportunities to take university-accredited courses developed in the North, led by Northern experts, and focused on the land as the primary teacher. But more than that, Dechinta provides an educational setting committed to decolonization and Indigenous self-determination. At Dechinta, one doesn't just learn about decolonization, Dechinta is a practice of decolonization.
The royal visit began with a lesson in several Dene languages. Dechinta then engaged the couple in Dene practices including preparation of caribou meat, smoking fish, use of medicinal plants, moosehide tanning, and beading. These practices were portrayed by the media as arts and crafts. What the coverage didn't communicate is that Dechinta participants explained to the royal couple how these activities play a key role in learning about, and engaging in, decolonization. As colonialism has displaced Indigenous peoples from their land, these activities help reconstitute students political, social and economic relations to that land. ...
Dechinta believes land-based education can also provide a site for self determination. The hope was that the message being advocated by Dechinta would shine during the royal visit and it wouldn't collapse practices of Indigenous governance and self determination into a display of 'arts and crafts'. However, once the event was over and media reports hit the airwaves, it became apparent this wasn't the case.
While this article may not correct the misinterpretation of the event propagated by the media, at least some record will exist of its true intent.
Dechinta Bush University Centre for Research and Learning is a northern-led initiative to deliver land-based, university credited educational experiences. Led by experts, elders, professors and northern leaders, Dechinta seeks to engage northern and southern youth in transformative curricula based on the cutting-edge needs of Canada's North. To learn more please click here.
Posted by Amanda Graham – 24 July 2011; 3:44:32 PM – Permalink