March 28, 2022: Dechinta has created digital resources that celebrate and discuss land-based education in the North.

Dechinta is the only fully land-based university accredited program in the world, and the only program explicitly mandated to serve Indigenous people. As Dechinta is the Wıı̀lıı̀deh word for bush or being in the bush, the university imagines a future of cultural revitalization through a reconnection with the land. Dechinta delivers land-based programming led by Indigenous experts, professors, artists and knowledge keepers, rooted in Indigenous knowledge, practices, philosophies and ethics. They believe in supporting self-determining and sustainable Northern communities rooted in Indigenous Knowledge and values. Watch below Learning off the Land, a mini-documentary by Journalists for Human Rights introducing how Dechinta is creating a new paradigm for education in the north.

Dechinta was created ten years ago out of a research project that identified the barriers Northern Indigenous communities were facing when trying to access post-secondary education. In response, Dechinta programming was designed by academics, Elders, community leaders, and northern students with the goal of offering accessible, holistic, and family-centered education rooted in Indigenous knowledge. Over a decade later, they continue to offer a rich educational experience that is respectful of northern expertise, culture, families, and the needs of communities, while also leading the way in securing an emerging knowledge sector in the Canadian North. Through Dechinta’s commitment to creative practice and knowledge dissemination, they have been able to create several videos and supplementary digital materials that celebrate and discuss land-based education in the North. The short film below describes Dechinta’s approach to land-based Education with Professor Glen Coulthard filmed in the MacKenzie Mountains.

Dechinta is recognized as a leading organization in the field of higher education for its leadership in Indigenous land-based education in the north. They have been committed to delivering programs created by Indigenous Northerners for the past decade, and their curriculums are developed specifically to cover critical Northern issues from an Indigenous and Northern perspective. Their programs are led by leading Indigenous academics, experts, and elders, many of whom are from Northern communities, and their courses prepare students for leadership roles in their communities, with a focus on Indigenous law, governance and women’s leadership. Dechinta is excited to announce the release of their short film documenting 2021 łiwe (fish) camp at Dechinta. This film first premiered at the 2021 NAISA conference. They have also created an accompanying fish camp ‘field guide’ to supplement this video material.

Dechinta is committed to delivering culturally relevant educational programming that prioritizes reconnection, skill-building, knowledge and practice with the land. Their curriculum and method of delivery have been internationally recognized. They understand the importance of being together on the land, learning with the land, and having a strong relationship to the land. Dechinta directly fulfills many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s education recommendations, including closing the education gap by delivering culturally appropriate and community developed curricula, enabling parent and community responsibility and control, and respecting and honouring Indigenous government relationships. Madeline Whetung made the following video during her time on site at the 2018 Dechinta spring semester while she was the land-based team leader in Chief Drygeese Territory.

Dechinta‘s programming is grounded in a holistic approach to education, which includes comprehensive wrap around services such as free integrated childcare, on-site counselling, and health services. This allows Dechinta to successfully bridge the unique barriers that northern Indigenous people, and especially women, face when accessing post-secondary education. Dechinta is committed to creating programs that are family inclusive and safe spaces for gender non-conforming and Indigenous queer and two-spirit folks. They create curriculum that ensures all Indigenous women, girls, and queer/trans/Two-spirit people are provided with safe, no-barrier, permanent, and meaningful access to their cultures and languages in order to restore, reclaim, and revitalize their cultures and identities. The following webinar is focused on the concept and practice of queering land-based education. The panelists, who have lived experience as Two Spirit, trans, LGBTQQIA+, and queer individuals, critically reflect on how queer Indigenous perspectives can inform thinking and approaches to doing online land-based education.