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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.

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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.

    Mary-Rose Sundberg    

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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.

    Paul MacKenzie    

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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. 

    Berna Martin    

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    Kelsey Wrightson    

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. 

Noel-Leigh Cockney is from Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik, NWT. His whole life he has grown up along the coast of the Arctic Ocean hunting and fishing. Once he graduated high school in Inuvik he went to college in Wisconsin, at Northland College, for four years graduating with a major in Outdoor Education and minor in Native American Studies. After graduating, he  worked for six years for NOLS, instructing backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater canoeing courses all over the USA. He moved back home in the winter of 2018, working in tourism for over two years, before finding his current position at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning as their Safety Coordinator and Regional Programmer.

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Randy Baillargeon is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, and is the Land-Based Coordinator and Community Mentor at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. He loves teaching Dechinta students and youth in his community how to hunt, trap, set and check fish nets, and how to drum and sing.  As much as he loves teaching, he is also always learning from others, which is why he loves to help the Dechinta Elders with various building project on the land. Randy is a talented drummer and singer, you may recognize him from community drum dances or opening prayer songs. In addition to drumming and singing, Randy loves making drums, which he learned from his family.  

    Randy Baillargeon    

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Josh Barichello is a settler who grew up on the territories of the Kaska Dena, Shúhtaot'ine, and Kwanlinn Dunn. For the past 10 years, Josh has worked with the Ross River Dena Elders Council on various Indigenous Knowledge projects, and on developing and facilitating land-based education programs. He is also currently pursuing an MA in Geography at UBC. Josh currently works for Dechinta from the Dena community of Tu Łidlini (Ross River) where he lives and works, as a regional programmer.

    Josh Barichello    

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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. 

    Leanne Simpson    

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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.

    Glen Coulthard    

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Gordie Liske is Wıı̀lıı̀deh Yellowknives Dene from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.  He is a traditional hunter and trapper, and is passionate about drumming and teaching. Gordie lives in T'è?ehdaà.

    Gordie Liske    

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Kyla LeSage is Vuntut Gwitchin from Old Crow, Yukon, and Anishinaabe from Garden River, Ontario. She grew up on Chief Drygeese Territory in Yellowknife, NT. Kyla is a Dechinta alumni where she received credits towards her UBC Degree in Political Science and Indigenous Studies. She now works full time for Dechinta as the Land Based Academic and Regional Outreach Coordinator. 

    Kyla LeSage    

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Charlene Liske is a Yellowknives Dene First Nation member from Te?ehdaa, NT. Charlene graduated from St. Patrick high School in 2002 and continued her studies at Grande Prairie Regional College in the Early Learning & Child Care Program for 2 years. She is a proud mother of 4 children. Charlene & her husband continue to teach their children their traditional way of life living off the land. She has worked with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation for the last 10 years as the Community Wellness Programmer, where she is known to coordinate all the special & culture events in the communities of Dettah/Ndilo. She now sits on the Dettah District Education Authority as the vice-chair person. She has also sat on the Mackenzie Recreation Association Executive Board for the North Salve Region and on the Dechinta Board of Directors. Now she is employed with Dechinta as the Lands and Culture Resource Director. 

    Charlene Liske    

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Sydney is a settler who was raised in Calgary, Alberta on Treaty 7 territory. During her Master’s degree at the University of Calgary, she focused on gendering and queering how we understand settler colonial power in Canada. She started her PhD at the University of Victoria in Political Science in 2019 but left the program in 2021 to join the team at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Yellowknife. As a curriculum developer and researcher, Sydney works to create various resources for students, the community, and for the public that are informed by the brilliant land-based work happening in the North. In particular, she is passionate about creating resources and curriculum that centre Indigenous queer, two-spirit, and LGTBQ+ individuals, in order to create an inclusive Indigenous learning environment that accepts and encourages all forms of gender and sexual diversity, and to mobilize and uplift queer Indigenous land-based knowledge, theory, and practices in the North and beyond. 

    Sydney Krill    

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Lianne Marie Leda Charlie is Wolf Clan and Tagé Cho Hudän | Big River People (Northern Tutchone speaking people of the Yukon). Her maternal grandparents are Donna Olsen (first generation Canadian of Danish ancestry) and Benedict Larusson (second generation Canadian of Icelandic ancestry), and her paternal grandparents are Leda Jimmy of Tánintsę Chú Dachäk | Little Salmon River and Big Salmon Charlie of Gyò Cho Chú | Big Salmon River. She was born in Whitehorse to her mother, Luanna Larusson, and late father, Peter Andrew Charlie. Lianne grew-up and went to school on unceded Lekwungen territories in what is commonly referred to as Victoria, BC. She has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa (UHM). Her research focuses on modern treaty politics in the Yukon, where she now lives. Lianne is multimedia artist and mom to Luka Gyo. She has created community murals in Whitehorse, Łu Ghą, Somba K’e, and Mayo; and co-created four pieces for To Talk With Others (Valerie Salez, 2018), including a life-size hot pink papîer maché bull moose made out of the Umbrella Final Agreement. Lianne is a faculty member with Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. 

    Lianne Marie Leda   Charlie  

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Rachel was born and raised in Sǫ̀mba K’è (Yellowknife), Denendeh where she still lives today. She is a nêhiyaw-English paddler and land-based learning advocate. In 2019, she completed a Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Entrepreneurship at the University of Victoria. Rachel is Dechinta alumni where she received a certificate in Community Land-Based Research. Currently, Rachel is working on a Masters of Indigenous Land-Based Education at the University of Saskatchewan where her work focuses on the resurgence of Indigenous canoe practices. Rachel is a Land-Based Programmer & Researcher at Dechinta. She is passionate about supporting Indigenous peoples to strengthen their connection to the land as she believes it is foundational for the resurgence of Indigenous cultures, languages, and ways of being.

Rachel Cluderay

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Morgan Tsetta

Morgan Tsetta is a Yellowknives Dene First Nation filmmaker and photographer, currently living on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth Nations, colonially referred to as Vancouver, Canada. With a passion for film, photography, and her Native culture, Morgan is committed to emphasizing the voices of Dene people and the power of self-representation for Indigenous sovereignty. After graduating film school, Morgan began work with Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning as their Digital Media Coordinator to connect with her sub-arctic home community in Denendeh and her Dene culture whilst simultaneously continuing her documentary filmmaking career.

Rena Mainville is Sahtu Dene and Metis from Tulita in the Northwest Territories of Canada, born and raised in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Rena has a bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education from Capilano University, Rena also took Indigenous Studies at Langara College and works full time as a Land-Based Educator with Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. Rena also lends her voice as a Junior Advisor to the Arctic Athabaskan Council and collaborates with the First Nations Pedagogy Network. Rena passionately advocates for culturally safe Indigenous land based learning and language revitalization for Indigenous children, families and communities.

Rena Mainville is Sahtu Dene and Metis from Tulita in the Northwest Territories of Canada, born and raised in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Rena has a bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education from Capilano University, Rena also took Indigenous Studies at Langara College and works full time as a Land-Based Educator with Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. Rena also lends her voice as a Junior Advisor to the Arctic Athabaskan Council and collaborates with the First Nations Pedagogy Network. Rena passionately advocates for culturally safe Indigenous land based learning and language revitalization for Indigenous children, families and communities.

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Elyse grew up as a settler on the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee, and Neutral/Attawandaron peoples in Brantford, Ontario. She has lived in the Northwest Territories since 2013, working as a Youth and Family Counsellor in Fort Smith before moving to Inuvik where she was the Child Development Coordinator at the hospital. Elyse has a degree in Sociology and post-grad diploma in Social Service Work. She is also a member of the Inuvik Fire Department with her 1001 certification. Elyse sits on the board of the Association of Social Workers of Northern Canada (ASWNC) to network with and provide support to colleagues across all 3 territories. At Dechinta, Elyse provides support to students and loves being out at camp on the land.

Elyse Vanderpost

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Rena Mainville is Sahtu Dene and Metis from Tulita in the Northwest Territories of Canada, born and raised in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Rena has a bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education from Capilano University, Rena also took Indigenous Studies at Langara College and works full time as a Land-Based Educator with Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. Rena also lends her voice as a Junior Advisor to the Arctic Athabaskan Council and collaborates with the First Nations Pedagogy Network. Rena passionately advocates for culturally safe Indigenous land based learning and language revitalization for Indigenous children, families and communities.

Rena Mainville

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Noel-Leigh Cockney is from Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. His whole life he has grown up along the coast of the Arctic Ocean hunting and fishing. Once he graduated from high school in Inuvik he went to college in Wisconsin, at Northland College, for four years and graduated with a major in Outdoor Education and minor in Native American Studies. After graduating, he worked for six years for NOLS, instructing backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater canoeing courses all over the United States. He moved back home in the winter of 2018, working in tourism for over two years, before finding his current position at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning as their safety coordinator and regional programmer.

Noel-Leigh Cockney