Faculty and Staff
Dechinta programming is defined by, and made possible through, the central role and contributions of Elders and community experts from Northern Indigenous communities. Our approach to research and education is community-driven, providing multi-generational programs that rely upon and celebrate the knowledge of Northern Indigenous Elders, knowledge holders, and community members.
Mary-Rose Sundberg is the granddaughter of Chief Baptise Madzii Drygeese, Chief Drygeese, who signed the treaty of 1921 (Treaty 8). Her father worked at Giant Mine. She has dedicated her life to the transmission of her language and traditions to other generations. Mary-Rose is the Executive director of the Goyatiko Language Society in Téɂehdaà (Dettah). She is also an interpretor/translator, language specialist, community leader, and an instructor at Dechinta. She teaches language and history.
Paul McKenzie is an Elder and on-the-land Instructor at Dechinta. Paul is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. He is very knowledgeable about Dene protocols and bush medicine.
Berna Martin is an Elder who often supports students during our on-the-land programs at Dechinta, sharing her language and dry fish making skills with the students. She is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and is a translator who often shares her Wiiliideh language with the students. She has worked in community radio for many decades and frequently speaks on community radio. She works with language and the land, and is happy to support all students and their love for the land.
Sam Gargan is an Elder born and raised in Redknife. Sam shares his vast knowledge of Dene politics as well as his bush skills with students. Sam is a former MLA and Deh Cho Grand Chief.
Glen Coulthard is Yellowknives Dene and an associate professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Departments of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Frantz Fanon Award for Outstanding Book, the Canadian Political Science Association’s CB Macpherson Award for Best Book in Political Theory in 2014/2015, and the Rik Davidson Studies in Political Economy Award for Best Book in 2016. He is also a board member and instructor at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, musician and member of Alderville First Nation. She is the author of seven previous books, including newly released, A Short History of the Blockade, and the novel Noopiming: A Cure for White Ladies which was released in the US in 2021 by the University of Minnesota Press. Leanne has released four albums including f(l)ight and Noopiming Sessions, and her new work Theory of Ice. Her latest book, co-authored with Robyn Maynard and entitled Rehearsals for Living: Conversations on Abolition and Anti-Colonialism, is forthcoming in 2022. Leanne works with the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning as an instructor.
Kelsey Wrightson is the Executive Director of Dechinta. She is based in Yellowknife, but works closely with all the regional programmers. Kelsey grew up in Edmonton Alberta, and completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2015. After finishing school, she worked for a year with Dylan Robinson at Queen’s University in the Centre for Indigenous Arts, and then returned to UBC and worked for 2 years in research grant administration.