Rubin Fatt became a Ni Hat’ni Dene guardian in July of this year, a notoriously busy time for Łutsël K’é’s Thaidene Nëné Department. “Denecho [Catholique] and I were out on the land all summer,” he recalls, referring to one of the other guardians. “We were patrolling, travelling back and forth to Reliance to work on the cabin and get ready for the spiritual gathering, putting signs up, hosting visitors.” Thankfully, Rubin had previous experience working with the department as a contractor, so the learning curve wasn’t too steep.
Born and raised in Łutsël K’é, Rubin learned how to be on the land from his maternal grandparents, Mary and Pierre Fatt. “When I was a kid, we would go in the bush lots,” Rubin remembers. Rubin also credits his late godfather, Sammy Boucher, with teaching him how to travel and live on the land, but in particular, teaching him about trapping.
Rubin is happiest when he is in the bush. “I love camping in every season, summer, winter,” he says, and he prefers to get his food from the land instead of the Coop. “My family likes traditional food, so I’m always out setting nets, going for ptarmigan.” He also keeps busy cutting wood. “I always have a lot of wood,” he adds, with a laugh.
Rubin’s favourite place in Thaidene Nëné is Kaché (Fort Reliance). He has fond memories of visiting Madeline Drybones’s cabin, “Madeline was my mum’s mum’s sister. Every year when I was a kid, we would go and camp at her place, me, my uncles, and friends.” He also likes attending the annual spiritual gathering at Desnéthcheé.
Rubin welcomed the creation of the Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area in 2019. “It’s good to protect our land, our animals, and our water from mining,” he says. “It’s good for our future, for our kids’ future, and their kids’ future.” In addition to ensuring permanent protection for the land of the ancestors, Thaidene Nëné has meant jobs, good jobs that are based in the community, for Łutsël K’é Dene like Rubin. And while he is thankful to have work that he enjoys and that pays well, he also recognizes there are others in the community who need jobs. Looking to the future, Rubin would like to see more employment opportunities connected to the protected area for local people.
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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.