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Dene Nahjo Elder Advisor Paul Andrew awarded Order of the NWT

Dene Nahjo wishes to congratulate Elder Paul Andrew on the prestigious honour of being selected as recipient of the Order of the Northwest Territories.

As a network of emerging leaders, Dene Nahjo relies on the guidance of Elders to assist in our work of creating long-term, positive change in the North through the celebration of land, language, culture and Indigenous leadership. Paul has been an Elder Advisor with Dene Nahjo for a number of years, sharing important teachings with the group that ensure the solutions put forward today are rooted in the teachings of our ancestors.

Paul is passionate about Dene, and in particular Shuhtoatine or Mountain Dene, culture. His favourite sayings are “We come from great people” and “I was one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to witness the Dene at their best.” He believes the future of the Dene is in the past.

“Dene must once again be proud of who they are and where they come from,” he says. “The greatest strength of the Dene is faith in the Creator, Dene Spirituality and Dene Language.”

After many years in residential school, Paul is a student of Dene history, including but not limited to connection to the environment, Dene understandings of cosmology, pharmacology, ecology and Indigenous spirituality.

Paul was born along the Twitya River in the Mackenzie Mountains across from Tulita. He is happily retired in Yellowknife and sits on a number of boards and committees.

The Order of the Northwest Territories, established in 2013 by the Territorial Emblems and Honours Act, recognizes individuals who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavour benefiting the people of the NWT or elsewhere. It is the highest honour awarded to NWT residents. A member of the Order can wear the insignia of the Order as a decoration and use the initials “O.N.W.T.” after his or her name.

The 2017 recipients of the Order of the NWT include:

–          Mr. Paul Andrew of Yellowknife

–          Mr. Fred Carmichael of Inuvik

–          Mr. Russell King of Hay River

–          Ms. Lynda Koe of Yellowknife

–          Mr. Jeff Phillip of Yellowknife

–          Mr. Tom Zubko of Inuvik

The induction ceremony is being held on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 11:30 am in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly. The Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Gerald W. Kisoun, will lead the ceremony in his role as Chancellor of the Order. The ceremony is open to the public.

Photo by Amos Scott

Woman’s Sacred Journey workshop to connect Northern women and girls with rites of passage traditions

Somba K’e, Denendeh, May 8, 2017 — This summer, Dene Nahjo is proud to be hosting a four-day workshop for women and girls aimed at restoring the intergenerational rites of passage traditions that were disrupted by residential school and colonization.

Guided by Elders Rebecca Martell of the Sîkîp Sâkahikan First Nation and Ethel Lamothe of the Łíídlįį Kų́ę́ First Nation, the Woman’s Sacred Journey workshop will offer a safe space to learn about and connect with Indigenous values and ceremony, and provide the tools for increased capacity in self-determination, wisdom and wellness within Northern communities and families.

“A rites of passage ceremony marks the transition from one phase of life to another,” says Rites of Passage project lead Melaw Nakehk’o. “There are many passages in life and Indigenous women have carried on those traditions in the North since time immemorial. This workshop will provide a sacred space to transmit those core values, responsibilities and traditional teachings so that they can be passed on to future generations.”

As an exercise in self-exploration focused on the teachings of the life cycle from childhood to adulthood and motherhood, the program will assist emerging women leaders to be more aware of their personal roles and strengths, and help to develop inter-generational relationships that bring the importance of women’s health and wellbeing to the forefront.

The workshop will take place August 28 to 31, 2017 in Somba K’e (Yellowknife) and has space for 30 participants from across the North. Applications for the Woman’s Sacred Journey rites of passage workshop are being accepted now until June 2, 2017. To apply, please visit:

Dene Nahjo’s mission is to advance social and environmental justice for Northern people while promoting Indigenous leadership and fostering emerging leaders. We strive to live, learn and celebrate our cultures, languages and Indigenous values on the land, guided by our Elders, and believe the solutions to the problems we see in our communities are rooted in the teachings of our ancestors. Dene Nahjo is a project of Tides Canada Initiatives.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Meagan Wohlberg

Communications Manager

Dene Nahjo


We Desire A Better Country: Kyla Kakfwi Scott’s Walrus Talk

The Walrus Talks Conversations about Canada: We Desire a Better Country stopped in Yellowknife on its national tour on March 6. Among the esteemed lineup of speakers, Dene Nahjo Founding Member Kyla Kakfwi Scott was asked to deliver her vision for how to make a better Canada. The following is the full text of her speech, as delivered.

I’m Kyla Kakfwi Scott and I’m here to talk about interpretation.

My great aunt Mary Wilson was an expert in her Dene language.  She worked for years as an interpreter.  As a little girl I spent a lot of time in meetings and assemblies around the North, listening to the important conversations of the day and hearing them simultaneously repeated in the Indigenous languages of our people. Making sense, making meaning… making a lot of noise, frankly, with all of those voices speaking at once so the whole room could emerge with shared understanding.

I once referred to my aunty as a translator, and my mom was quick to correct me. Translators take words or text from one language to another, interpreters explain the meaning of something. Effective interpretation is not only the explanation but also the way of explaining; it requires a commitment from the speaker and the audience to hear more than words, more than ideas; to question the assumptions that feed the place you are listening from and push yourself towards understanding the place from which they are spoken.

I don’t speak my Dene language, but I have still spent my life interpreting. It’s not just about language; the need to interpret expectation, or social norms, exists for anyone who finds themselves living in a new place, or surrounded by a culture that is not their own. It’s an experience shared by many people of mixed heritage; carrying two cultures within you means that the need to bridge between them is inescapable. That need for interpretation inevitably is carried by the minority.

In this era or capital ‘R’ reconciliation, Canada has expressed a desire for better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Relationships must be built on understanding, and the burden of interpretation required to achieve that cannot be carried by Indigenous people alone.

We desire a better country. It’s a bold statement; one full of possibility and begging for interpretation. The beauty of it is that it can mean something different to every one of us. The challenge is that if we can’t arrive at some shared understandings we’re not likely to achieve any of those visions.

As an adult, my practice as an interpreter has been something I’ve carried into my work. It’s a useful skill and it has served me well as a public servant to be able to work from multiple perspectives. My most challenging application though, and the source of some of the work I am most proud of, is through my involvement with Dene Nahjo – an Indigenous innovation collective based in the Northwest Territories.

Emerging from the Idle No More movement, Dene Nahjo began as a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists grappling with the challenge of “what next?”. We saw a need for change within our communities, which even here in the North had become far too divided, between indigenous groups, between the indigenous and non-indigenous population, and between urban and rural communities. We saw disconnect between generations, interruptions in cultural continuity, and a lack of innovation in popular discourse. Collectively, we agreed to tackle not just the question of what to do to address these challenges, but perhaps more importantly to make conscious and deliberate decisions about how we would do it.

Our vision is land, language, culture. Forever. On a daily basis we individually and collectively interpret and reinterpret what contemporary survival means for Indigenous people. What implications does it have for our cultures that we live in increasingly urban environments? Through our projects Dene Nahjo works to bring culture into unexpected places, create safe spaces for dialogue and innovation, build relationships, and challenge the status quo. Whether it’s tanning moose and caribou hides in downtown Yellowknife, making tools, or hosting circumpolar women’s gatherings, we’re defining for ourselves what it means to be Indigenous.

The reality is that we do not exist as depicted in museums, or books, or archeological sites, and that is fine. We continue to carry that history, that knowledge, that way of life, but our culture also lives where we do; sometimes in cities. Sometimes in rooms like these. My indigeneity, my culture, is defined and redefined by my daily practice and application in all things; in how I speak to you, in how I hear you, in how i work, and in how I learn. For Indigenous people the master class is always on the land, but the practical exam is wherever we’re standing.

Dene Nahjo has become for me what those assemblies of my childhood were; rooms full of people with a relatively common purpose, doing the hard work of figuring out how to get there and how to support each other on the journey. But these rooms don’t come with interpreters, and these conversations can easily go off track, or lose engagement, as meanings are misinterpreted, or the challenge of finding shared understanding becomes too great.

My aunty was a great interpreter, but also an Elder in the truest sense of the word with all of the wisdom that carries. My favourite story about her is the time that my dad, as a young leader, addressed a community meeting in our hometown of Fort Good Hope. He gave what I’m told was a great speech, in English, relying on the skills of my aunty to convey his meaning to the unilingual Dene in the room. She didn’t. She waited until he was done speaking and then told him to interpret for himself, to tell people in his own words and in his own language whatever it was that he thought they needed to hear. A challenge to his own responsibility for understanding the importance of interpretation, to his accountability to his community, to the importance of grounding himself in his own language and culture if he wanted to lead. He did the speech himself a second time, and she never interpreted for him again.

Here is what I understand that story to mean: the burden of transformational change cannot be shouldered by “leaders” alone. Nor should it be. Becoming our best selves depends on our personal integrity and commitment to improvement, but it also requires the support and insistence of our families and communities to carry us through the discomfort of growth, challenge, and the uncertainty of innovation.

Striving for a better country won’t be simple or easy. It will require a lot of interpretation to move beyond understanding what better means to you, or to me. Being better demands that we come to appreciate what better means to each other, and how and why those understandings are  meaningful. This is hard work and it’s okay for it to feel that way. Be gentle with yourself, and don’t be disheartened by the magnitude of the challenge. But know that gentleness is not the same as complacency, and complacency is not an option.

What I love about the idea of a better country is the liberation and challenge that comes with working towards something without an end point, something that infinitely calls for more. This work demands tolerance, patience, and deep personal commitment. It asks us to bring our best selves, to hold each other up, and to embrace the discomfort of real transformation. It is a recognition that a better country is what we collectively make it to be, and that our work as interpreters is to seek understanding, not as an accomplishment but as a practice and commitment and way of being through every step of that journey.

Mahsi cho

Listen to part of Kyla’s talk below:



Job Alert: Director, Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship

Director, Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship Program

About The Gordon Foundation

The Gordon Foundation is a philanthropic foundation based in Toronto, Canada. The Foundation undertakes research, leadership development and public dialogue so that public policies in Canada reflect a commitment to collaborative stewardship of our freshwater resources and to a people-driven, equitable and evolving North. Over the past quarter century, The Gordon Foundation has invested over $27 million in a wide variety of northern community projects and freshwater protection initiatives.

About the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship

The objective of the Jane Glassco Northern Fellowship is to recognize emerging leaders interested in public policy from among a diverse range of talented, dedicated and motivated northern Canadians. The program aims to support northerners in the early stages of their career who want to build on their skills and leadership. The program enables participants to better articulate and share their research and ideas publicly, as well as create dialogue, to bring about a more healthy, self-reliant and sustainable North.

Throughout the 2-year program, participants meet four times (in each Territory, and Ottawa) for educational gatherings, to work on research independently and collectively, and learn from some of the most prominent voices of leadership, policy development, negotiations and traditional knowledge. Upon completion of the program, participants become a member of a growing Alumni network, which meets for continued networking and learning opportunities, and has access to a granting program that facilitates their continued policy research and education interests.

About the Role

This high profile position requires strong networking and relationship management skills; experience with public policy analysis and development; and good knowledge of leadership development needs in the North.

As the lead mentor to up to 15 Fellows, you will be able to support their policy research interests, facilitate group work, and provide guidance and advice. You are also a seasoned facilitator and are comfortable developing and implementing learning sessions in a variety of content-appropriate formats.

You are polished, professional, and confident and excel in a fast-paced and evolving environment. You will be equally comfortable and productive as a solo operator and team player.

This role reports to the President and CEO and is supported by the administrative team at the Foundation, including a logistics coordinator, and administrative and financial support people.

Key Areas of Responsibility

Program Design and Delivery

  • Implement program improvements based on an independent evaluation and your own vision
  • Lead the recruitment and selection of Fellows for upcoming cohort
  • Develop a two-year program, including four in-person gatherings (3 in northern communities, one in Ottawa)
  • Guide and support Fellows’ independent research and policy development projects
  • Design group projects and facilitate completion
  • Maintain a mentorship network and ensure Fellows are supported in their individual needs by appropriate mentors
  • Serve as senior mentor and primary point of contact for Fellows and Alumni
  • Refine and maintain evaluation of the Fellows and Alumni programs
  • Engage Alumni and implement programming to meet their ongoing needs
  • Report regularly to the Board of Directors
  • Collaborate with Foundation staff on inter-program opportunities

Outreach and Promotion

  • Act as key spokesperson to media and stakeholders
  • Work closely with Foundation staff to build a strong understanding of the purpose and impact of the Fellowship and Alumni network
  • Work with Foundation staff to maintain and acquire continued support for the program
  • Develop partnerships and collaboration opportunities to maximize reach and impact of the program
  • Seek opportunities and support Fellows and Alumni in continuing to raise their profile and promote their work


  • Be either a current or previous resident in the North (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, or Nunavik)
  • Have solid northern networks and/or a proven ability to build strong networks in northern and/or Indigenous communities
  • Experience and proven ability working in leadership development either with an early career or adult student population or in “youth engagement,” broadly defined
  • Experience working in a cross-cultural setting, and with culturally-based and/or land-based learning
  • Have strong familiarity with policy issues and the public policy framework/process, particularly with regard to one or more northern jurisdictions
  • Experience as a facilitator and strong speaking and presentation skills
  • Basic knowledge of human resources and project management, including some financial management and program evaluation
  • Post-secondary degree in a relevant field, with ability to work in an inter-disciplinary setting (or the equivalent experience)
  • Self-motivated and able to work largely independently
  • Experience working with selection processes and/or mentorship programs considered an asset
  • Ability to travel
  • Strong preference will be given to applicants identifying as Indigenous (Inuit, First Nations or Métis)

This is a full-time position, reporting to the Foundation’s Toronto office. The successful candidate may work from the Toronto office, or from a remote location, preferably in the North.

How to Apply

To apply, please include “Director, Fellowship Program; The Gordon Foundation” in the subject line and submit your resume to: HEATHER LAWSON, Vice President, CONROY | ROSS PARTNERS,

Deadline: Your resume and cover letter must be received by March 3, 2017.

Dene Nahjo Winter Market 2017: Entirely Northern, Uniquely Indigenous

Uniquely Indigenous arts and designs will once again be up for grabs in time for your holiday shopping at Dene Nahjo’s second annual Winter Market in Yellowknife, December 18 from 12-5 p.m.

Contemporary and traditional Indigenous artists and designers from the North will be exhibiting and selling their spectacular, one-of-a-kind works that celebrate culture and the land at the Champagne Room on the second floor of the 50/50 Mini-Mall downtown.

For organizers Melaw Nakehk’o and Tania Larsson, the market is an important forum to showcase the exceptional talent and centuries’ old traditions of Northern Indigenous artists in a setting that celebrates and affirms their cultural identities and connections to the land.

“Throughout our entire histories as Indigenous peoples, art has been an important part of our identities, from the way we travel to our clothing to our homes,” says Nakehk’o. “Art is a part of our genetic makeup, and it’s crucial that we continue to make opportunities for that creativity to be sustained and supported.”

“Art and innovation are integral to maintaining the continuity between tradition and future that gives us our strength as Indigenous Peoples,” says Larsson. “By supporting Indigenous artists, we are honouring the resilience of our ancestors and celebrating the promising future of our next generations.”

Along with artist vendors, the market will feature music by DJ Eugene Boulanger and specialty Northern brunch cocktails to enjoy while you shop.

Read about the 14 featured artists and their artwork below.



Angela Jack’s company Kamamak Cosmetics (Kamamak means butterfly in Cree) is a paraben free colour cosmetics line based out of Yellowknife. The line consists of lipstick, eye shadow, blush, N’iso cream, and liquid matte lipstick. Right now the lipstick features limited edition gold butterfly art by Alicia Smith out of Vancouver.




Inuk was born, raised and continues to live in the Northwest Territories (NT), Canada; she is of Eskimo (Inuvialuit) and European descent. Inuk’s art journey began in the spring of 1990, when she surprised herself and others as well with her ‘natural ability to caribou hair tuft’. Learning to tuft helped her find, develop and hone her own techniques and create her own unique style of caribou hair tufting. Since then, she has been reviving and successfully bringing tufting to new heights and into the fine art category, worldwide, using caribou hair. As you view her art, you see her love of it and it show’s in every piece, you can see the utmost care in quality and originality, which you will enjoy for years to come.



Don Antoine is a local Dene carver/artist who specializes in using Indigenous materials such as moose and caribou bone/antler. He was born and raised in the North, originating from Fort Simpson, and is currently making his home in Yellowknife. He is self-taught, and uses a variety of different drilling, colouring, and smoothing techniques to create pieces that are striking and unique.




Gloria Enzoe is a member of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation who lives in Lutsel K’e with her three boys and husband. Her love for arts and crafts was learned over time from her mother and father, who both enjoyed their own crafting. Her mom beaded, worked on hides and was very active out on the land. Her dad was always drumming and singing. Working with her husband, who does all the cutting and polishing, they are able to make their unique pieces come to life. Growing up in the Lutsel K’e allows them to be one with the land. Spirituality, culture, values and customs are very important to their lifestyle at home, and guides them individually and as a community to do good for their people, the surroundings, the lands and waters and all the animals that live there.




Jesse Larocque of Yellowknife makes beaded jewelry to keep the art of beadwork alive through future generations. Six years ago, Jesse started learning from her great grandmother Violet Beaulieu. She beads to share the beauty of this tradition with as many people as possible, and also enjoys teaching anyone who wants to learn!





Neco Towtongie makes ulus, traditional Inuit women’s knives. He taught himself after his grandfather passed away because it was something his grandfather did for years as a way to make an income. Now, Neco is carrying on tradition and his grandfather’s memory.





Nathalie Taylor has also been creating beautiful seal skin pins and hair pieces. She also plans on making seal skin designs on key chains, as well as jackets for dogs in different sizes and colours.





For Rosalind Mercredi, art is the thread that winds its way through life; mixed media art, painting first in oils, then in acrylics and watercolour, drawing, sewing, building and creating. Then she discovered the possibilities of glass and with its range of colours and textures and with the addition of new elements such as river stone, wood, antler and shells all coming together to create something new. Rosalind currently does art glass work under the name Northsoul Glass Studio, where she explores the process of stained glass, sculpture fused glass and painting on Glass. She also operates the Down to Earth Gallery in Yellowknife where along with selling her own artwork, she also sells artwork from over 100 Northern artists.



Sharon Anne Firth of the Gwich’in First Nation grew up traditionally with her family – sewing, hunting, trapping and fishing in Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta of the Northwest Territories. As a four-time Olympian, Sharon has traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe and Japan. She continues to champion her causes: education, fitness, traditional and healthy lifestyles. Her activism has resulted in her membership into the prestigious Order of Canada, and she is also a very proud recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. As a result of these experiences, Sharon’s jewellery and fur products fuse her rich traditional upbringing with today’s complexity of fashion. Sharon strongly believes that every woman should feel beautiful, feminine and strong.


screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-3-11-19-pmPhotographer Shawna McLeod was born and raised in the Northwest Territories, and spent most of her life in the Deh Cho region, living in the small Indigenous community of Fort Providence. Growing up, she was always known to have a camera of some sort on hand – ready to capture interesting images. In 2012, she graduated with a diploma in professional photography from the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, BC. It was while attending photography school that she recognized beauty shots, traditional clothing and Northern backdrops came together very well in a photograph. She currently resides in Yellowknife with her family and travels to Northern communities to take portraits of families and individuals, weddings, landscape photos and traditional and non-traditional community events. Her photography is featured in numerous publications, websites and media including: the Up Here Magazine, Cree Nation and Yukon Ordinary. She’s also a blogger for an online indigenous women’s collective called Tea & Bannock.

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-2-34-29-pmRobyn McLeod is an Indigenous woman from the Deh Cho Region. She is 29 years old and her parents are Michael and Joyce McLeod. She is currently a student at Deh Gah School taking a distance education course. Robyn is an artist who specializes in beaded jewelry, a fashion designer, certified yoga instructor and traditional games facilitator, who travels around the NWT with the Aboriginal Sport Circle teaching students about Dene games. Robyn is a person who is very interested in re-connecting to the land and her culture. She recently spent the summer volunteering with the Dehcho K’ehodi Stewardship program in Fort Simpson and in Kakisa. She also attended a month long Program Called Trails of our Ancentors at Edehzheh (Willow lake) on the Horn Plateau. She believes that learning together as a community is the way to keep the culture alive and bringing elders and youth together is an important part of understanding our land, people and the our language.



James Wedzin is a Tlicho artist born and raised by his grandmother in Behchoko, NT. James praises his grandmother for inspiring and encouraging his early interest in traditional art. He watched her intricate bead work endlessly and developed his own sense of style in art. He started at age four and by age fourteen his talents developed to the point that his artwork was a demand. He started selling his creations and became a full-time artist. Today, you can find James’ work in galleries and in the hands of many private collectors. James is one of the better known Aboriginal artists in Canada, known for his paintings of Northern landscapes, animal imagery and Northern lights.



img_3685Chipewyan Dene artist John Rombough was born in the remote community of Sioux Lookout in Northern Ontario, Canada. At the age of three, John was adopted by Carol and Lyall Rombough, a Prince Edward Island couple. He attributes his early interest in drawing and painting to being raised in their giving and artistic environment. As a young adult, John began the search for his birth parents. He discovered his biological father, Alfred Catholique, living in the tiny community of Lutsel K’e on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Canada’s pristine Northwest Territories. Warmly welcomed by all the Catholique family, John decided to move to the community in order to rediscover his cultural identity. John Rombough’s painting style has since changed to reflect the harmony of the Dene people and the natural world. His distinctive modern Aboriginal designs also encompass his own personal visions and strong connection with nature. Paintings that communicate to all nations, through visual interpretation, brilliantly mixed colours are transferred onto canvas, sending out a message of compassion and respect. As John works toward creating original pieces, Ceremonial Drum Songs flow through his thoughts, songs that represent Dene teachings and spiritual way of life. Sacred teachings passed down from ancestors through his visions inspire John to live a healthy creative lifestyle. Honouring the ancestors teachings; respect self, respect people and respect the land. John Rombough is recognized as a role model throughout the NWT and takes his role very seriously. His paintings are instrumental in conveying a message to the youth, a message of encouragement, leadership, strength, willpower and determination. New cultural discoveries continue to provide him with an inexhaustible reservoir of ideas to put to canvas. John’s paintings are increasingly well received by collectors and corporations alike.

13406957_10153546030457021_5890743447654592757_n-1Hovak Johnston is Inuk woman raised on the land in the Kitikmeot Region in Nunavut until she was sent away to school. She uses her Inuinnaqtun name Hovak given to her at birth as a way to carry her traditions and honour her past relatives after whom she was named. Hovak has a deep connection to her culture and traditional arts and skills that were passed down to her. Now living in Yellowknife. Hovak does some type of traditional artwork everyday; from sewing, soapstone carving, jewelry making, tanning hides, fleshing and preparing skins to her latest endeavours: traditional tattooing. Hovak is also a performing artist who is well respected for the pride she puts into her work, culture and traditions. She also teaches school students part time on how to make traditional items. Hovak’s most recent passion is spearheading a revival of the traditional Inuit tattoo’s by learning the modern and ancient methods of tattooing.


img_7592Melaw Nakehk’o is a distinguished artist and community leader. Born in Canada’s North, raised in the community of Liidlii Kue, Melaw comes from a long line of tribal leaders of the Dehcho Dene & Denesuline people. Melaw attended the prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she earned a degree in 2 dimensional arts. Melaw is also recognized for her exemplary work in revitalizing traditional Indigenous artistic practices, with contemporary applications of ancient techniques. Her work in reviving and teaching moosehide tanning techniques has initiated a resurgence of the practice and shaped a broader community building movement within Canada. She is a Founding Member of Dene Nahjo, and is a regular instructor at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a land-based university program. Melaw has three sons and lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.



Tania Larsson is of Gwich’in and Swedish descent and was born and raised in France. At the age of fifteen, she moved to Canada with her family with the goal of reconnecting to her culture and her land. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in digital arts and jewelry at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Tania is a founding member of Dene Nahjo, a non-profit organization that focuses on cultural revitalization projects. She constantly seeks out opportunities to learn traditional practices such as tanning hides on the land, making tools and sewing. Combining her traditional skills and contemporary arts education, she strives to create pieces that are inspired by her culture and delivered using digital technologies.

Stories from the Land national podcast tour coming to Yellowknife

Dene Nahjo and Aurora College are proud to be co-hosting a groundbreaking podcast and digital media project centred on Indigenous storytelling and reconciliation as it makes its way to Yellowknife on November 7.

The Stories from the Land podcast, created by Anishinaabe comedian, writer and media maker Ryan McMahon, is traveling across the country to collect stories from diverse Indigenous communities aimed at (re)connecting Indigenous Peoples to their lands.

Through storytelling and digital media workshops, the tour will result in 60 original audio stories on reconciliation that will be heard across Canada, empowering Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples to create a healthy pathway forward.

“Sharing our stories and passing on the teachings is how we learn to better appreciate and understand the importance our connections to the places we come from,” says Dëneze Nakehk’o of Dene Nahjo. “Updating these traditions in a modern context is the next step. We’re looking forward to working with Ryan McMahon, and creating better appreciation and understanding through his podcasts.”

Yellowknife Events

There will be live storytelling and audio workshop events taking place in Yellowknife throughout the day on Monday, November 7.

  • Aurora College: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Sir John Franklin: 1 p.m. – 3:25 p.m.
  • PUBLIC EVENT: Explorer Hotel, Katimavik B – 7-9 p.m.

For more information, please contact:

Dëneze Nakehk’o

(867) 446-3633

Dene Nahjo Seeking Northern, Indigenous Artists for 2016 Winter Market

Dene Nahjo is looking for Indigenous artists and designers from the North to exhibit and sell their work during our second annual Winter Market in Yellowknife on December 18, 2016 from 12-5 p.m.

Interested contemporary and traditional Indigenous artists are asked to submit photo examples of three pieces of quality work along with a short bio about themselves and their art.

As space is limited, applications will be reviewed by a selection committee. Artwork should celebrate Indigenous culture and the land.   

The deadline to apply is midnight on Sunday, November 13.

Tables will cost $60 each.

Please contact:


Photo credit: Stanislav Sedov (CC)

Social Media Contest @denenahjo #urbanhidetanning

Dene Nahjo invites you to participate in our Social Media Contest for our upcoming Moose & Caribou Hide Tanning Program  July 11-29, 2016.

Our hashtag for the social media contest is: #urbanhidetanning 
We encourage the use of the hashtag #urbanhidetanning on all public posting of pictures of our upcoming Hide Tanning Program. Winners of the social media contest will be selected each week to win some of Tania Larsson Studio’s jewellery.

Instructions for Contest:
1. Tag @DeneNahjo on Twitter and/or Instagram and include the hashtag ‘#urbanhidetanning‘ to win one of three weekly draws for jewellery by Tania Larsson Studio! Winners will be announced each following
Monday on Facebook.

2. We will encourage people to share photos and videos using the hashtag ‘#urbanhidetanning’ and tagging @DeneNahjo to three commonly used platforms: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Tania Larsson Studios

Good luck to everyone! We cant wait to see you come visit our Hide Tanning Program

and see your videos & pictures!!

You’re Invited!


Dene Nahjo – Moose & Caribou Hide Tanning
Please join us to celebrate the opening of our new Moose & Caribou Hide Tanning Revitalization Program.

Location: Somba K’e Civic Plaza, Yellowknife.
Date: July 11, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m.

Hosted by:

Dene Nahjo –Tides Canada Initiatives.
Tea & Bannock will be provided
We look forward to seeing the residents & visitors of Somba K’e there!

Tides Canada Project Logo Reverse


Hide Tanning in the City of Somba K’e



Dene Nahjo to host caribou and moose hide tanning camp in downtown Yellowknife, NT

Somba K’e, Denendeh — Dene Nahjo invites the public to experience the revitalization of an ancient traditional and cultural practice through the teachings of our Elders during a three-week caribou and moose hide tanning camp at Somba K’e Civic Plaza (Yellowknife Tennis Courts) this summer, July 11-29, 2016 Monday – Friday.

Elders, instructors and experienced hide tanners will join together to tan caribou and moose hides using various regional techniques, while creating traditional tanning tools in the process. Members of the public are invited to come to the site to observe the traditional tanning, in action. There will be opportunities to touch and try the tools, ask questions of the tanners, and enjoy some tea and bannock and traditional stories.

Program Hours:

Mondays: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesdays: 12:00pm – 7:00pm

Wednesdays: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Thursdays: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Fridays: 10:00am – 4:00pm

The camp will help to create a space for critical reflection and discussion around the history of colonization in Canada, Indigenous political mobilization, Northern health and wellness, and cultural revitalization.

“Reclaiming Indigenous knowledge and revitalizing cultures is the path by which Indigenous peoples can transcend the damage created by colonization, which has had devastating impacts on Indigenous people and communities’ health and well-being,” says Dene Nahjo project director Iris Catholique.

“Hide tanning is an important contemporary cultural practice, but the opportunities to learn are not readily accessible. This moose and caribou hide tanning camp will open the space for intergenerational knowledge exchange, and give the general public get a better understanding of why hide tanning is so important to many Indigenous peoples in the North.”

The hide tanning revitalization project is made possible by the generous contributions of the City of Yellowknife, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (Education, Culture and Employment), GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Denesoline Corporation Ltd,  Sacred Fire Foundation and numerous volunteers.

Dene Nahjo, a project of Tides Canada Initiatives, is a new generation of leaders and community builders working to advance social and environmental justice for Northern peoples and promote Indigenous leadership.


For more information, please contact:

To find out information on how to sign up as a participant to learn how to smoke and tan moose and caribou hide contact
Iris Catholique

Dene Nahjo Project Director



Media Contacts:


Melaw Nakehk’o

Dene Nahjo Founding Member



Tania Larsson

Dene Nahjo Founding Member


Hide Tanning Revitalization

Dene Nahjo to host caribou and moose hide tanning camp in downtown Yellowknife


Somba K’e, Denendeh — Dene Nahjo invites the public to experience the revitalization of an ancient cultural practice through the teachings of Elders during a three-week caribou and moose hide tanning camp at Somba K’e Civic Plaza (Yellowknife City Hall) this summer, July 11-29.


Elders, instructors, and experienced hide tanners will join together to tan over 10 hides using various regional techniques, while creating traditional tanning tools in the process.


Each weekday Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.,  Tuesdays 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. members of the public are invited to come to the site to observe the traditional tanning in action. There will be opportunities to touch and try the tools, ask questions of the tanners, and enjoy some tea and bannock.


Job opportunity with Tides Canada in Yellowknife!

Summer Student, Administrative and Communications Assistant

Yellowknife, NWT | 4-5 days/week | Apply by May 6, 2016

From Canada’s big cities to its remote land, waters, and rural communities, Tides Canada provides uncommon solutions for the common good.

As a national charity, we connect and empower a wide range of people and initiatives across the country to take on tough social and environmental challenges, building a stronger Canada. We work to accelerate positive change and achieve greater impact across the country by bringing giving, investing, and doing under a single roof.

The Administrative and Communications Assistant (Summer Student) will support data entry, logistics, proposal editing, and office management activities in order to enhance and support the work of Tides Canada’s Northern programs. Our Northern programs include encouraging northern leadership and capacity, promoting knowledge and wise stewardship of natural resources, and fostering strong, healthy northern youth and families.

View the full posting here.

Upcoming Event: National Youth Leadership and Innovation Strategy Summit

On April 29 and 30, the National Youth Leadership and Innovation Strategy Summit is bringing together Canada’s leadership and innovation programs, young leaders and corporate and government leaders to architect the first national plan on youth leadership and innovation.

Right now, we have a federal government that’s more eager than ever in history to create opportunities for youth to lead in the economy. Over two days, we’re going to develop a strategy to deliver to the Minister of Youth (who is also, incidentally, the Prime Minister of Canada) on how to develop more youth in Canada as leaders and innovators.

The Summit is on April 29 and 30 is free-of-charge and is reserving spots for organizations and young leaders from across Canada. There will also be funding available to support the travel and accommodation of those who may not otherwise be able to attend.

You can find more information and the application at


Dene Nahjo members featured in new online magazine

Dene Nahjo founding member Tania Larsson is featured on the cover of Narrative Witness 2: Indigenous Peoples, Australia-United States, an online collection of writing and photography published by the International Writing Program.

The photo by Kali Spitzer (Kaska Dena/Jewish artist from the Yukon) features Larsson adorned in traditional Gwich’in jewelry reclaimed through her art and research at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she and Spitzer study.

The portrait of Larsson is part of a larger photo essay by Spitzer titled ‘An Exploration of Resilience,’ featuring portraits of Indigenous women. Those photos include fellow Dene Nahjo founding member Melaw Nakehk’o, a Dene artist, mother and actor.


Melaw Nakehk’o, photographed by Kali Spitzer


Tania Larsson, photographed by Kali Spitzer

Tania Larsson, photographed by Kali Spitzer

“Many of our relatives were and continue to be inappropriately photographed and misrepresented,” Spitzer writes in her artist statement. “I am working to redress this from behind and in front of the lens by creating images of contemporary indigenous people from an indigenous perspective. Through the timeless lens of the tintype, and in collaboration with my subjects, the relationship between the process of creation and the person being photographed is made manifest.”

Check out Spitzer’s full photo collection and artist statement here.

The International Writing Program summarizes the new collection on its website:

“In fall 2015, 32 indigenous writers and photographers living in Australia and the United States came together in an online exchange to create fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography centred on the theme of ‘narrative witness.’ Led by writing and photography workshop facilitators, the group workshopped their photo essays and texts online over the course of two months.”