Dechinta Land-based Centre for Research & Learning / by Pat Kane

                                                Dechinta outcamp at Blachford Lake.

I just returned from a few days at Dechinta, the land-based centre for research and learning at Blachford Lake, Northwest Territories. If you haven't heard of Dechinta, let me try to explain it in an admittedly oversimplified way: Dechinta is a University of Alberta accredited program where students study issues and topics relevant to the NWT and Northern Canada in general, while at the same time practicing traditional land/water activities on a daily basis. 

Many people have called Dechinta the "Bush University" but it's much more than that. The program helps students, many of which are from smaller communities in the NWT, discuss and understand complex issues about colonialism, resource development, socio-economics and politics in Canada's North. What's cool is that its done in a communal and open forum while completing traditional tasks as a group. Here are some photos from Dechinta's outcamp, where students stay for one week of the semester. 

Big thanks to all of the students, instuctors and elders for having me along - and especially big thanks to Erin Freeland Ballantyne and Mandee MacDonald for organizing it. 

Blachford Lake, home of Dechinta.

Melaw Nakehk'o cleans an area of pine needles.

Cruz Menicoche - his mother, Crystel is a student at Dechinta and the program welcomes student's children, many of which participate in the Youth Program.

Crystel Menicoche holds up a batch of spruce gum which helps with upset stomach, sore throat and even diabetes.

Daniel T'seleie leads a seminar in fracking and climate change - a frank and sometimes emotional discussion among students.

Peter Andrews, a student from Tulita, NWT, scrapes moosehide. 

Muskox meat is cooked on an open fire. 

Dinner time.

Elder instructor, Paul Mackenzie.

Paul teaches Peter and Crystal Campbell how to build a decorative birchbark canoe. 

Dechinta co-founder, Erin Freeland Ballantyne watches Crystel Menicoche tend to the fire that's smoking the moosehide. 

Peter Andrews stretches the moosehide in brain water which helps soften it. 

Youth Program instructor, Charles Lanstra from Pelly Crossing, Yukon. 

Elder instructor, Archie Sangris. 

Jonathan Konistea, a student from Nahanni Butte, NWT, chops fire wood. 

Paul Mackenzie in the boat. 

Erin and Melaw, with their babies, Hunt and Baz while they smooth out poles for the moosehide teepee.

Archie Sangris leads Crystal Campbell and Joanne Krutko on a hike. Guns are needed because of the many black bears in the area. 

Jonathan Konistea. 

Building a birch bark canoe.