From Dene Kede to Dene Ts’ili: Review of Dene Language and Cultural Revitalization Initiatives in the Sahtu Region

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: social sciences, aboriginal language, cultural revitalization

Principal Investigator: Simmons, Deborah L (21)
Licence Number: 16167
Organization: Sahtu Renewable Resources Board
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: Aug 24, 2017
Project Team: Keren Rice (Co-Investigator, University of Toronto), Mary Ann Vital (Co-Investigator, Sahtu Dene Council)

Objective(s): To synthesize knowledge about the status of Dene language and Dene ts'ili revitalization programs.

Project Description: This collaborative project involving community and academic collaborators seeks to synthesize knowledge about North Slavey language and cultural revitalization as a core component of evolving community visions for Dene ts'ili (being Dene, Dene ways of life) in the Sahtu Region of the Northwest Territories. The project reflects upon the documented history of Dene language revitalization efforts in the context of evolving socio-cultural, ecological and political community and regional realities, and with a focus on the role of Dene youth knowledge.

This project undertakes three key objectives with respect to community visions for Dene language and Dene ts'ili revitalization in the Sahtu Region, considering Dene youth knowledge as a focal point for each objective: 1) to synthesize knowledge about the status of Dene language and Dene ts'ili revitalization programs; 2) to assess current data on indicators related to status and trends in Dene language and Dene ts'ili variation, continuity and change; and 3) to disseminate and mobilize lessons learned in indigenous language and cultural revitalization within the context of regional and cross-regional aboriginal governance, collaborative resource management (co-management), and territorial policy frameworks.

The community-based interviews will be run with and by regional and community language coordinators, and participants will receive honoraria for their time. The interviews will be on the topic of language and culture revitalization and each community's traditional strengths.

Indigenous communities in the Sahtu Region are highly integrated and work with one sector usually is related to the interests of other sectors. The products from this work will mobilize knowledge crossing all community organizations, providing language and culture workers along with many others the opportunity to use this product for future funding proposals for Dene Ts'ili initiatives. Community language coordinators are the main collaborators in this project.

Ehdzo Got'ine (Renewable Resources Councils - RRCs) will be key partners given their mandate under the land claim in supporting traditional knowledge, cultural practices and research with an emphasis on land-based activities. They will be asked for input at every stage of the project, including development of recommendations. RRCs will work collaboratively with the Sahtú Renewable Resource Board (SRRB) and the University of Toronto in developing project results and resources.

The project will also solicit advice and collaboration from elders and youth, promote opportunities for intergenerational interaction and knowledge transition, and raise the status and awareness of Dene language and ways of being.

On a regional level, the project will also be guided by the Nek'e Dene Ts'ili Forum (Living on the Land Forum, formerly the Sahtú Environmental Research and Monitoring Forum, which brings together representatives of the five RRCs.

The research teams will communicate the results of this study through formal means throughout the project (i.e., a final report, a summary, and other reporting documents disseminated through local RRCs) as well as through numerous informal means, including SRRB Facebook posts, local involvement, and community workshops. The regional workshop to be held in Tulita will provide one of the key forums for knowledge dissemination.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 24, 2017 to December 31, 2017.