Ten years ago, Canada was the only country that did not have a circumpolar university, and Dechinta set out to change that. In collaboration with the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta, we deliver accredited post-secondary courses entirely on-the-land, co-developed with Indigenous Elders, community leaders and leading Indigenous academics. Dechinta continues to raise and redesign the bar for the Indigenous and northern student experience. 

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Our curriculum prioritizes artistic practice, cultural revitalization, and creative pursuit


Our programs are rooted in Northern land-based Indigenous knowledge systems and ethical practices

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Our pedagogy is committed to the health and inclusion of families, youth, women, and Queer/Trans/Two-Spirit people

Our blended model of education innovatively combines Indigenous knowledge with academic credentials to ensure students are positioned for success on the land, in the community, in post-secondary education and in employment. Dechinta’s proven approach to education not only improves student outcomes but offers important pathways for northern communities to build cutting edge curriculum and learning opportunities that reflect their needs in a changing future. We have had over 375 program completions. The majority of our students achieve higher levels of employment following graduation. Our programs not only provides supports for northern families to attend inclusive education, but also provides comprehensive mental health supports during and following our programming. This holistic approach to education, building from a strengths-based approach, supports both physical and mental wellbeing while increasing education outcomes for both adults and children.


Our Education Programs

Full Dechinta Semesters

Dechinta semesters are an intensive on-the-land learning experience the exemplify the important impact of Indigenous cultural programming in education. Courses include land-based activities, such as harvesting medicines, making dry fish, learning to prepare and tan hides, as well as academic reading, writing and presenting.  


  • Each semester takes place over 12 weeks. Students may take up to five university-accredited courses.

  • Maximum enrolment per semester cohort is 10-12 students

  • Amidst COVID-19, we continue to prioritize community wellness and safety, with limited enrolment from outside the territory


Dechinta offers courses through the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. These courses can be used towards the completion of an undergraduate degree, and are transferable through the Western Dean's Agreement.

Courses Offered Last Semester Included:

INLB 252: Introduction to Gender Justice and Indigenous Communities 

INLB 201a: Narrating the Land: Indigenous Storytelling

INLB 201b: Indigenous Arts and Resurgence

INLB 210: Land and Indigenous Self-Determination: Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives

 INLB 452:  Indigenous Solidarity Politics: Policing Black Lives

INLB 401b: Land Based Artistic Practice

 INLB 401a:  Advanced Indigenous Storytelling

INLB 301: Land and Indigenous Self-Determination: Advanced Theoretical Perspectives

Camp Life


Each program is adapted to the needs of our community partners. We have done programming in the mountains, on rivers, on lakes and in lodges. Each program is designed to support students to focus on the knowledge from the land and the communities where we are learning. 

Students and families are active participants in camp life, and take on an active role in building and maintaining our learning space. We learn, and work to build our community together. 

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Dechinta Certificate in Land-Based Research

Offered in partnership with UBC, the Dechinta Certificate in Community and Land- Based Research was piloted in Fall 2018. 

Students can complete this certificate over a longer period of time, or during one of the 12-week Dechinta semesters. To receive this university certificate, students must complete 5 of the courses offered by Dechinta that are accredited by the University of British Columbia. 

Course offerings may vary by semester and season.

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Accredited Short Courses (1-2 Weeks)

Dechinta also offers immersive and interdisciplinary accredited short courses in response to requests from Elders and faculty for the creation of short, intensive, university level programming that is delivered in specific regional contexts responding to the needs of each area. Each short course will contain regionally specific history and governance contexts and will include faculty and Elders Professors from the designated regions. Sessions on governance, sustainable development, Indigenous language, Indigenous arts, and community-based participatory research methodology are offered.

Dechinta faculty and staff also offer specialized training and custom designed courses developed as graduate courses, master classes, professional development and training, and workshops. All courses are co-taught with Indigenous academics, community leaders and Elders.

Courses are 1-2 weeks in length and are offered seasonally. 


Specialized Courses for Your Community

Dechinta is also committed to developing and delivering courses to meet the needs of you and your organization. Please contact us to discuss your ideas or needs, and we can start to build relationships and a program that meets the needs of your community. 

Click here to find out about our upcoming programs for the 2021 year!

Past Dechinta Alumni


Kyla Sendaya Lesage

Kyla Sendaya Lesage belongs to the Vuntut Gwitchin of the Yukon and the Ojibway in Ontario. She is grateful to call Yellowknife her home where she was raised alongside her two siblings. Kyla is in her 4th year of university at UBC where she studies political science and First Nations Indigenous Studies. Kyla would like to extend a mahsi cho to the Yellowknives Dene and Dechinta for providing her with an incredible semester on the land.