Dechinta Bush University and Centre for Research and Learning is a northern-led initiative to deliver land-based, university-accredited educational experiences. Initiated by a group of young Yellowknifers, the program seeks to engage northern and southern youth in transformative curricula based on the needs of Canada’s north. ICHR has been aiding this novel community-based initiative with teaching, the development of a health curriculum and by hosting and maintaining its website dechinta.ca as in-kind support.
The pilot semester of Dechinta took place in June 2010. The first group of students learned about Creative Writing and Communications, and Northern Governance with Richard Van Camp, Stephanie Fox, and Glen Coulthard and featured guests François Paulette, Stephen Kakfwi, and Fort Good Hope elders Mary Barnaby and Judy Lafferty.
ICHR in partnership with the Universities of Alberta and Toronto delivered a Health Promotion Planning course coordinated by Denise Kurszewski as part of the pilot semester. The students also participated in traditional cultural events throughout the week. Featured guests and presenters included Tłįcho community member John B. Zoe, Elder Jane Dragon of Fort Smith, Olympian Sharon Firth, health promoters from the Government of the NWT, and University of Toronto Professor Suzanne Jackson. Throughout the course, there were also Elders present from the Yellowknife Dene. Funding for the health component was provided by the University of Toronto Aboriginal Initiatives.
In 2011, Rajiv Rawat hosted a photovoice and community research methodology course at Dechinta’s spring semester.