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Friends, there are certain places and times that always have their way of staying with you.

One of these for me is Deline, which came up in a recent story by News/North reporter Nick Pearce.

Deline is the kind of place that stays with you, writes columnist Antoine Mountain. Photo courtesy of Antoine Mountain

The person mentioned, Leroy Andre, has certainly earned the name of Highest Honest Leader, also noted.

What brought me there last was to help promote what became Sahtu In the Arts, to highlight the works of the artists of the Great Bear Lake Region. Our group eventually went on to win a Premier’s Award for Excellence in Group Projects.

When I first arrived in May of 2010 the people had no idea what I was doing there, so I ended up in the church residence. The humbler of the flock even came to give me their confessions!

After we got that straightened out I worked out of the Aurora College building.

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One regular visitor was Joe Blondin Jr., who was something of a historian. When he found out I wanted to produce a mural with the youth about Deline being the real Birthplace of Hockey, he took the time to bring me all the way back to the first game, held in the winter of 1825.

Locals also told me why so many visitors spoke of strange night-time noises in their Grey Goose Lodge – that it was built over the site of a burial ground.

Another project which captured the Elders’ interest had to do with the Prophet Etseo Ayha, who foretold the use of the uranium ore taken out of nearby Port Radium, to be used as the atomic bomb, dropped with devastating effect, on Japan, to end the Second World War. There was even a full-blown Canadian and American government delegation, who met with the Dene prophet, to find out if the German army would come to Western shores. His answer was that “no, the German bullet (meaning army) would not come.”

Noticing how well kept the graveyard was I got local artists busy to decorate the place, with winged Dene angels, some drumming.

While there for several months I often noted groups of the youth working around town, usually in the company of an Elder.

I was told that this was community policy, to team up young people with an older person, to keep them out of trouble.

As a result, of all the five communities in the Sahtu, Deline usually has the least number of court cases. When I was there, the grand total was like five per month.

Anyway, it is good that people like Leroy Andre are still in the works to help out the youth remember and practice their Dene culture.

Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at www.mountainarts.com.

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