Friends, over a decade ago I first started with this extended post-secondary education.
Since then the Government of the NWT jumped on board, wanting me to work with the five communities of the Sahtu, Great Bear Lake Region.
With our Sahtu in the Arts we worked to feature the artists and craftspeople, in cultural events.
It even resulted in some serious recognition, with the Premier’s Award for Group Activities.
Along the way, too, I’ve earned two degrees, one in the Fine Arts and a Masters of Environmental Studies.
The one which has taken the longest is the present Indigenous Studies PhD.
Over the last little while I’ve gotten done with one major hurdle, the comprehensive exams.
In this case this involved letting my school, Trent University, know that I understand our total of 120 textbooks, no less, with all of the supporting materials.
Some questions involved finding new ways to approach and involve our Indigenous Worlds.
Needless to say, it took some major doing to get this far.
One other Northern student still at her studies is Celine Vukson, sister to Tlicho Tribal Council President George Mackenzie.
She has been very supportive from the first day I started, some five years ago, and saw to it that our university changed some parts of these studies, to involve more community in academia.
Too, all this would not be possible without the input of my home community of Radelie Koe, Fort Good Hope.
As with most places in the North we have our share of intergenerational school trauma.
So far, my research proposal has had to do with helping our youth, strengthen their Dene identity.
It has always been my belief that we, young and old, already know whom we are, but we need look seriously at our own selves, to find out ways to live positively.
For the time being, too, I will be working out with my school to find ways to include my Arts, painting murals, to make these studies move forward.
My main feeling is that we as Dene can accomplish whatever it is we set our minds to.
To this end one of the things our elders always say is that you need to just go ahead each time and ‘challenge your life!’
This is what our People did each and every day on the land, and how our Dene traditions survived over these past thirty thousand years and counting.
Mahsi, thank you.