Building a Dehcho Stewardship Vision

Dehcho First Nations
Dehcho First Nations

“Developing a stewardship vision for the Dehcho took time and had to be done the Dehcho way,” explains Dahti Tsetso, Resource Management Coordinator, Dehcho First Nations. “We did the first workshop on the land, in the bush, and this helped create the right setting. We’d start each workshop by feeding the fire. We wanted to create opportunities for quality conversation.”

Dahti and her colleagues hosted a series of three planning workshops to develop a clear vision to guide stewardship on Dehcho lands. This vision lead to the establishment of Guardian programs and other important priorities.

To help guide the sessions, Dahti posed this question: “What does conservation mean from a Dene perspective?”

The answer: “To be on the land, in the Dene way, will protect  the land.”  

Out of these workshops, important themes emerged, including the importance of the Dene language, the need to honour the Dene Laws (based on the principles of respect and sharing), and the importance of  youth-elder mentorships to ensure future generation learned Dene ways of being on the land.

The Dehcho visioning process was successful because it:

  • Involved youth, elders, community members and resource stewardship staff
  • Allowed all community members to come and be part of the conversation
  • Included guests from other Nations to share their experiences and insights
  • Involved a highly skilled facilitator who was trusted and knew the content well
  • Included hosting workshops both on the land and at the high school

Since the visioning workshops, the following programs have been put in place to help realize the Dehcho’s stewardship vision:

  • The Dehcho Guardians Program in ten communities focused on monitoring and youth mentorship in collaboration with Dehcho-AAROM
  • Land-based youth camps that bring together youth and elders for mentorship on the land
  • A model of stewardship that enables ‘conservation through culture’
  • Multi-governmental and non-governmental partnerships to help achieve our stewardship goals

To learn more about the visioning process and outcomes, see the Dehcho K'ehodi Final Workshop Report