Land Based Arts and Creative Practice
Indigenous land based arts and creative practice is a foundational component of all of Dechinta’s community and accredited programming. We are committed to the practices of local traditional artists and crafts people in our programming - hide tanners, tool makers, singers, drummers, beaders, sewers, storytellers and canoe builders are a core part of our land based programming. We are also committed to northern Indigenous artists and their practices, and over the years, we’ve engaged filmmakers, photographers, singer-song writers, and visual artists in workshops, public talks, and making projects.
Many of our staff are accomplished artists in their own right, including Dene singer and drummer Randy Baillargeon and Gordie Liske, makers Paul McKenzie and Charlie Sangris, hide tanners Charlene Liske, Justina Black and Kyla LeSage, visual artist Lianne Charlie, writer and musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, photographer Josh Barichello and photographer and filmmaker Morgan Tsetta. We also strive to bring contemporary northern Indigenous artists into our programming to showcase their work, give public artist talks, launch their books and provide workshops for our students. Past guest artists have included Leela Gilday, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Catherine Lafferty, Tunchai Redvers, Siku Allooloo, and Asinnajaq.
Past and Ongoing Programming
Strong People, Strong Communities Mural Project
Dechinta is a proud partner of the NWT mural project founded by Mahalia and Kalina Yakeleya-Newmark. The project brings young (16-25) emerging Indigenous featured artists together to celebrate Indigenous stories by completing four murals in Yellowknife, one in Ndilo and one in Dettah. The professional Indigenous artists involved are Chief Lady Bird, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Brian Kowikchuck, Cody Fennell, Kailey Sheppard, Lianne Charlie, Peatr Thomas, Carla Rae Taylor, Myrna Pokiak, and Melanie Jewell. This partnership builds upon Dechinta’s past mural making projects with youth in Dettah, some of which were displayed at Folk on the Rocks.
Find out more about Strong People, Strong Communities here
Dechinta hosted a workshop in December of 2020 in which participants learned the Wiìliìdeh language while making their own moosehide wrap arounds.
Dreaming New Worlds: Indigenous Creative Practice
Led by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, this project asks: How are community based Indigenous artists integral to the field of Indigenous artistic practice? How can the inclusion of artists working from these locations, often doubly remote in terms of both geographic and economic distances, contribute to the field of Indigenous artistic practice, and the role of Indigenous cultural production in the project of reconciliation more broadly? This research included a land based arts gathering in February 2020 with a public artist talk by Leela Gilday, Asinnajaq, Siku Allooloo, Lianne Charlie, Teya Kocsis, Tania Willard and Erin Sutherland. While COVID-19 has stalled this research, we have continued to work with Northern Indigenous artists in our book project.
Nahe Náhodhe Video Project
Dechinta was a partner with the Dehcho First Nation’s Nahe Náhodhe “Our way of life” in Dene Zhatie (South Slavey). This project consists of six short videos filmed at the Katł’o’deeche First Nation showcasing language, culture, knowledge and on the land activities.
The videos can be viewed here: https://dehcho.org/nahe-nahodhe-way-life/
I Hold the Dehcho in My Heart - Sedze Tah Dehcho E'Toh
The documentary directed by Lesley Johnson centres on the experiences of two Indigenous women as they reconnect with Dene culture and spirituality on their ancestral homelands. It follows a group of students with the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning during the summer of 2017 as they canoe down the Dehcho. It has screened at Łı́ı́dlı̨ Kų́ e Film Festival and the Women’s International Film and Arts Festival, and can be screened online at CBC Gem.
Storytelling and Literary Arts
Story-telling has long been a foundational part of life in the north for Indigneous peoples. In all of our programming, Indigenous storytellers play an important role in passing along oral culture and practices to younger community members. Fred Sangris, from Dettah, is a well known Dene storyteller and historian who makes regular appearances at our land based camps in Akaitcho territory. During the pandemic, Dechinta engaged in a series of zoom-based writer workshops for emerging northern Indigenous writers, in addition to hosting virtual book launches and editing our own collective of northern Indigenous creative writing to be published by ARP Books in 2022. We’ve also hosted in person book launches, writer’s talks and film screenings for Glen Coulthard, Robyn Maynard, Winona LaDuke, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and Catherine Lafferty.