This is the first in a series of profiles about the staff, leaders, and community members who are hard at work implementing Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation's vision for the Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area. You can read the other profiles here.
Joseph Catholique is a skilled land user, who is happiest when he is outside. Joseph had little interest in school as a young person. He preferred to hitch up the dogs—his grandfather, dad, and brother all had dog teams—and take them out. On his own, he would do day trips close to town. With his family, through, he travelled to the barrenlands. Living and travelling with his grandparents, John and Marie Catholique, and his parents, Judith and Pierre Catholique, Joseph learned how to be self-sufficient.
One of Joseph’s responsibilities as a senior guardian wıth Ni Hat'ni Dene, Thaidene Nëné’s Indigenous guardian program, is passing on his knowledge and skills to the junior guardians. He takes this part of his job very seriously: “Whatever I have learned, the skills I have learned from my grandfather, dad, brothers, mum, brother-in-law, sisters, I pass along. It’s important to teach the younger ones so they know. We don’t want to lose that.” In turn, Joseph is learning from the younger members of the crew. “Technology is coming up fast,” Joseph says, referring to the various tools available now for environmental monitoring. “It’s good to know how to use it to do our job.”
While Joseph loves spending time anywhere in Thaidene Nëné, Betsı̨ı̨ghıé (Utsingi Point) is a particularly special place for him. “I’ve always liked that point, since I was a kid,” he explains. Not only is it good fishing, but it is also a spiritual place. “When we pass by there on skidoo or in boats, we stop to pay the water and the land.”
Looking ahead, Joseph has three goals for his time with Ni Hat’ni Dene. First, he’d like to see a greater emphasis on using and passing along the language. Second, he’d like to see a return to using dog teams in Łutsël K’é and thinks the guardian program could provide an avenue for that. Lastly, he’d like to take a small group of young people by canoe from Łutsël K’é to Baker Lake along the Thelon River.
Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation Launches Online Store Featuring Locally Made Art, Clothing, Jewellry, and Tools
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2020 – Łutsël K’é, NT
On Tuesday, November 10, the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation (LKDFN) will officially launch Caribou People Creations, an online store featuring the work of skilled local artists and artisans.
“The name signifies who we are as Dënesųłı̨né people,” says Chief Darryl Marlowe of the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation. “We have always been and always will be the people of the caribou.”
Caribou People Creations will provide LKDFN members living in Łutsël K’é with a wider audience for their arts and crafts.
Hanna Catholique, administrator of the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation Chief and Council says, “Each piece is handcrafted using traditional methods and materials harvested from the lands and waters.” A pair of earrings featuring smooth discs of caribou antlers harvested during a community hunt. A hide-fleshing tool handcrafted from the leg bone of a moose. Mittens made of tanned caribou hide trimmed with sealskin and lined with duffle. “Every piece truly tells a story,” says Catholique.
Purchasing art and crafts through Caribou People Creations does more than support the economic well-being of the people of Łutsël K’é. It also supports the preservation of Dënesųłıné culture and traditions.
“Sewing and creating crafts has always been a reconnection with our culture and expression of skills that have been passed on from generations. It has allowed us to be proud to exercise those skills into the future. Our grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, aunties, and uncles all taught us skills, be it sewing, carving, making snowshoes, making bone tools. All the women knew how to sew when I was growing up and we did not have that in residential school; we had to relearn from them in our language to keep our identity alive as Dënesųłı̨né people. The expression of appreciation by those they crafted for was the reward,” says Florence Catholique, a local artisan.
Chief Darryl Marlowe says, “The Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation is working towards developing more local economic opportunities that are sustainable and respectful of the environment and our traditional ways. Our new online store, Caribou People Creations, is another tool we will use to showcase all the talent our community has to offer the world.”
Łutsël K’é is in the midst of several new economic development initiatives, following last year’s establishment of Thaidene Nëné, an Indigenous Protected Area that includes Canada’s newest national park reserve and territorial protected areas.
In January, the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation acquired the world-class Frontier Lodge. For decades, members of Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation have worked as expert guides at the 60-year-old lodge, sharing their deep knowledge of their homelands with fishers who come from all over the world to catch enormous lake trout, as well as northern pike and grayling.
The Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation is expanding the lodge’s tours and experiences in order to offer visitors to Thaidene Nëné many different ways to connect with the culture, history, and natural beauty of the Land of the Ancestors. The lodge complements newly launched local tourism enterprises, as well as plans to build an interpretative and administrative centre for Thaidene Nëné.
Rosie Jobin-Catholique has been busy setting up the Caribou People Creations website and cataloguing items for sale. After tomorrow, she will also be managing marketing and sales for the online store.
Note to Editors
As implementation continues, the Thaidene Nëné team is looking for new and better ways to communicate with members and visitors. You may have noticed that we are posting more regularly and more often on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and also here on the Land of the Ancestors website.
We are aware, however, that not everyone has social media accounts. We also thought it would be helpful to have all of the information about what we have been up to and what we have planned in one place.
For these reasons, we are launching a Thaidene Nëné community newsletter. We hope to issue the newsletter a few times a year. As this is the first newsletter and it has been a busy year, this issue is a little longer than normal.
If you have suggestions for the newsletter or for Thaidene Nëné communications and/or operations, please let us know. Our door is always open.
The November 2020 Thaidene Nëné Newsletter is available here.
We have slick new Thaidene Nëné swag. The hoodies and t-shirts feature the Thaidene Nëné logo, which was designed by Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation member, Kaya Casaway.
Growing up in Łutsël K’é, Kaya spent a lot of time on the land with her parents, Maryrose and Modeste Casaway, her sister, Marcy, and her brother, Dez. Now based in Columbus, Ohio, Kaya is a skilled illustrator and designer.
The Thaidene Nëné logo grew out of Kaya’s love and longing for the land. “I miss it everyday,” she admits. In Kaya’s words, the logo is meant to capture “the love that we have as Łutsël K’é Dene for our land, culture, and people.”
Marsı cho Kaya for sharing your creativity with Łutsël K’é and the world! To learn more about Kaya and her design, visit Our Logo.
Thaidene Nëné hoodies and t-shirts are available at our office. Call 867-370-3820, ext 1005, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation. Our vision for Thaidene Nëné is:
Nuwe néné, nuwe ch'anıé yunedhé xa (Our land, our culture for the future).
We’re working with our partners to permanently protect Thaidene Nëné—part of our
huge and bountiful homeland around and beyond the East Arm of Tu Nedhé.