The Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning is creating a book to include more Indigenous voices from the North in its curriculum.
Looking to hear from northern Indigenous writers, the creators seek to compile a series of works covering a wide variety of topics, ranging from self-determination to personal on-the-land stories.
“We really believe that the North has strong Indigenous writers and that this is a perfect form and a perfect time for them to be able to reach out and submit their writings,” said Kyla LeSage, Dechinta’s land-based academic and regional outreach coordinator.
Still in the early stages, the book seeks to address a gap in the readings assigned to students.
The current lack of accessible and relatable content makes it difficult for some students to connect what they are reading to their on-the-land learning, according to LeSage.
“It’s a life-changing thing to learn from someone of your own culture that is Indigenous,” she said. “It’s really going to shape their learning while they’re out on site.”
LeSage, who is an alumna of the Dechinta Centre, says students will connect more with the material if it comes from someone they may know or an individual who has experienced a similar situation.
“We think it will be really beneficial for students that are new out on site and don’t know what path they’re going to take after Dechinta,” she said.
The book will be published and shared on a wider scale, LeSage said, to amplify the voices and knowledge of its writers. LeSage hopes it will help Indigenous students attending other post-secondary institutions connect to their course material.
What will be included?
Submissions are not restricted to a certain kind of writing, LeSage said. The book has no maximum number of pieces it will accept as the creators do not want to discourage authors from sending in their work.
“We really want to provide a space for Indigenous writers that wouldn’t normally think about publishing any of their work,” she said.
Work already submitted includes personal essays, poetry, interviews with Elders and community knowledge holders, and academic articles.
Those selected will receive an honorarium for sharing their insight and experiences.
“We want to make sure these writings and submissions are honoured and the Indigenous knowledge they’re sharing is being recognized,” LeSage said.
She encouraged anyone hesitant to reach out and provide their stories to help create a connection with future generations through storytelling, even if they have never written publicly before.
“I think it means a lot for the writers to be able to write and submit to our Dechinta book and be able to really reconnect with their culture and imagine themselves as writers,” she said.
The Dechinta Centre is offering online workshop sessions on July 7 for alumni and July 11 for the public to support those who are looking to contribute but may require assistance with their pieces.
Submissions are being accepted until August 1.