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Dechinta Bush University joins international University of the Arctic

Dechinta Bush University Centre for Research and Learning was accepted as a member of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) last week. Dechinta is a land-based university operating in Chief Drygeese Territory, Northwest Territories.

UArctic is an international cooperative of universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research about the Arctic region.

“It’s important for Dechinta to be part of this because it means we’re joining a network of different research institutions, universities and colleges and we’re able to cooperate and collaborate more internationally,” says Kelsey Wrightson, Director of Policy and Programming at Dechinta.

“Dechinta has been recognized for best practices in Indigenous-led research and education, and now this means we can collaborate across international boundaries,” she says.

“We’ve been offering Indigenous-led, land-based programming for the last nearly ten years,” says Wrightson, adding that their programming is in partnership with the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia.

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Dechinta offers students options for attending university courses out on the land, she says, and all courses are co-taught with Indigenous Ph.D.’s and professors, Elder faculty members, and community leaders.

“It’s very much a community approach,” says Wrightson.

“We have a really inclusive program, so students are able to bring their families out to site.”

As a member of UArctic, Dechinta can now be a part of international conferences, research units and networks as well as participate in student exchanges with other institutions in the circumpolar world.

“So really just getting the importance of Indigenous-led education out to a more global level,” Wrightson says.

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Their membership may also play into the Arctic Policy Framework as well, a new federal policy framework which is being “developed to reorganize and reprioritize federal activities in the Arctic”, according to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs website.

“The framework is intended to increase partnerships and collaboration between the federal government, Indigenous peoples and territorial and provincial governments,” the government’s page states and includes themes like Arctic economies, infrastructure, science and Indigenous knowledge.

“As a member now, I think we have a lot more input into the Arctic Policy Framework that’s being developed right now in the NWT and across the North,” says Catherine Lafferty, Director of Community Development and Indigenous Education at Dechinta.

She says they’ve been trying to become a member of UArctic for while, so it’s great to finally be involved.

“It was quite a rigorous process actually getting our application in and becoming a member,” she says

“It’s just nice to be acknowledged as a centre for research and learning as a part of the circumpolar world,” says Lafferty.

“And being able to have that exchange with other universities that are doing similar programming, and then we can learn off them and they can learn off of us and we can just collaborate.”

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