Opaskweyak Cree Nation, Dechinta find success with land-based education

October 19, 2016

Students at Oscar Lathlin Collegiate on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and the Dechinta Center for Research and Learning are hunting, fishing, and trapping for academic credit. Students of Oscar Lathlin Collegiate learn to live off the land by taking a trapping education course in Grade 11 and a forest ecology program in Grade 12, with both programs incorporating Cree culture and language with contributions from community members and elders. The school also requires that all students complete one Cree-language course to graduate. “It gives the kids a sense of connection,” said land-based education teacher Randy Koshel. “They're getting a chance to see what outdoor living is and the cultural and spiritual values that are shared, especially when elders come in and talk about it.” Based in the Northwest Territories, Dechinta offers postsecondary-level courses with topics ranging from Indigenous medicine to natural resources management. In its seven years of operation, the school has seen all of its 340-plus students complete their programs. CBC | University Affairs