When the Thaidene Nëné Department announced it was in need of a new guardian last fall, Kevin Fatt jumped at the opportunity. “I’d been working in town way too much,” he explains. “I was always wanting to go out on the land, but there was never enough time.” A position with Ni Hat’ni Dene meant it would be Kevin’s job to spend time on the land. Kevin was no stranger to the department. He had been working on a contract basis since Ni Hat’ni Dene became a full-time, year-round program in January 2020. (Prior to this, Ni Hat’ni Dene guardians worked seasonally.)
Kevin is well-suited to being a guardian. First, he has solid bush skills, having been raised by his maternal grandparents, Pierre and Mary Fatt. “They’re the ones that taught me how to live off the land,” Kevin says. “How to harvest, when to harvest, how to survive off the land.” Thanks to their careful instruction, Kevin came to love travelling on the land and spending time in the bush and on the tundra. Second, Kevin is a capable mechanic, who enjoys fixing things and problem solving. These are important skills for Ni Hat’ni Dene, who spend much of the summer and winter months away from the community out on patrol and need to be self-sufficient. Third, Kevin enjoys meeting new people, which is another feature of life on patrol. In the summer months especially, Ni Hat’ni Dene interact with visitors from all over the world, acting as ambassadors for the protected area.
Like so many in the community, Kevin has to work to identify a favourite place in Thaidene Nëné. “It doesn’t matter where I am,” he says. “It’s just being out there.” If he has to choose though, he would pick Kaché (Fort Reliance) and Ts’ąkuı Theda (Lady of the Falls) because of the deep history that Łutsël K’é Dene have there and the many stories tied to the area.
Kevin takes his position with Ni Hat’ni Dene seriously because it’s an inherited responsibility. “Our ancestors told us to watch over Thaidene Nëné,” he explains. “It’s our turn now to carry on their tradition.” Recognizing the importance of future generations to protecting the land and ensuring the continuation of Łutsël K’é Dene culture, Kevin wants to involve young people more in the work of caring for Thaidene Nëné, so one day they can take over this responsibility.
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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.