Two elders picking berries from the land. During a trip to White Beach Point, NT a few elders and community members explored the surrounding area. When they encountered a patch of blueberries, they were quick to lay down their rifles and enjoy the food that the land offered.
Mike Nitsiza is visiting the community farm in Gamèti, NT - a community effort to grow healthy foods for the small hamlet in the subarctic. Every summer it creates a full-time position in the community and offers some part-time summer employment for youth. The farm has given the community a chance to provide food for their families, but it also boosts morale in the community and helps community members to stay engaged with each other.
A baby moccasin that someone has left as an offering at a sacred site. The site is rarely shown to outsiders and is a place of mystery and intrigue for the surrounding residents. The site highlights the loss of knowledge and stories as most people don’t know why the place is sacred or why people have left offerings. The moccasin was made with love and care for a baby. Many hours were spent sewing and beading.
Tłı̨chǫ Imbè participants get their camp ready in the summer. The team leader camp is held every year before the Tłı̨chǫ Imbè program starts. The Įmbè program connects young people with Elders to help ensure that the Tłı̨chǫ language and culture are passed on to future generations. Through the Įmbè program, young people are encouraged to learn as much as they can about their unique culture, language, history and land and take pride in themselves and their communities.
In a world where one in five of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the last 12 months (UN, 2019) and where women are constantly pressured to look a certain way, Jessica turns to the practice of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Jessica says Jiu-jitsu helps women to re-establish a new relationship with their bodies, reminding women of their physical capabilities, focusing on what they can do versus what they can’t do, using intelligence over strength to get out of difficult situations, and channeling this confidence throughout all aspects of life.
Environmental monitors, Elders, and biologists come together every year to sample and monitor the water and fish throughout the local lakes. The hope is to have baseline data for when industry comes into the area. The data they collect will provide valuable information towards keeping the water and fish healthy for future generations.
Kotsiihtla - We light The Fire. A saying that means we keep the sacred fire going in the community. Fire has a special place in the spirituality for the Tłı̨chǫ. During a feeding of the fire ceremony, community members make offerings to the fire so that the creator can watch over loved ones. The fireplace has been keeping the people of the north warm through countless generations and it is important to never let it go out.
A fish biologist and environmental monitor collect fish for sampling. Community Monitors are important for the stewardship efforts in the Tłı̨chǫ area. Monitors receive community-based training and are tasked to work alongside biologists as they sample. The hope is that they learn the science and are able to teach a new generation.
A youth enjoying the sand at Whitebeach Point, NT. Whitebeach Point has always been used by the Tłı̨chǫ people for camping, fishing, and hunting. There are still some elders with us who were raised in the area. Whitebeach Point has been a place of contention between the Tłı̨chǫ government and mining companies in the past. In 2015, Husky Oil withdrew its plans to use the sands of Whitebeach Point to explore its potential for use in fracking.
A community member enjoys a community feast. Feasts have always been a place that brought the community together. Traditional feasts were set on table cloths on the ground and people sat on the ground to eat, balancing life with no obvious caste or hierarchy. Everyone sat together and enjoyed food with one another. Although that has all changed, the thought still remains the same. Anyone can come and eat at the hall together.
House by the lake. Behchokǫ̀ is a small community; it definitely has experienced its share of problems. It is believed about 100 to 125 people living in the community are homeless; many suffering from trauma and grief. A new warming shelter was established in the community during the winter season to reduce homelessness.
The teepee has kept the Tłı̨chǫ safe since they have called Denendeh home. The poles that make up the teepee are harvested from the bush and traditionally covered in caribou hide to keep the families warm. It is considered a great skill to make a teepee.
A site that has seen forest fire in the past. This fire forced the residents of Edzo, NT to evacuate their homes and flee to stay with friends and family in neighbouring towns. This reflects a world-wide trend that is seeing forest fires on the rise, affecting lakes and streams, destroying wildlife habitat and polluting the air.
A fish biologist cuts open a white fish to take samples. The samples will be sent out to a lab to help create a database of baseline data for the watershed. Elders, community members, and environmental monitors watch as the biologist explains the process that goes into taking a sample.
A camp foreman looks at his work. The Tłı̨chǫ people have a very special connection with land and animals. They make an offering to the land and water whenever they travel upon it, or when they have a successful hunt. The land is abundant in its gifts and the Tłı̨chǫ people have always felt at home on the land. During the establishment of hamlets throughout the territory many families were coerced to live in towns. There are some elders who were born on the land that have witnessed a large cultural shift with their people now living in the internet age.
Since 1997 there has been an upward trend of crime in outlying communities, with violent crimes on the rise. Crime has been linked to lack of recreational activities and substance abuse. An economic disparity also exists, with a large gap between the haves and have-nots that may play a part. Whatever the case, the youth have found alternate ways of being that differ from their parents. Some forming familial bonds in untraditional ways. There has always been a distrust between law officials and community members, and this has been exasperated with the rising levels of crime in the community.
Tegan Nitsiza drums during a hand game. The drum has always been a spiritual instrument; often used to sing prayer songs and drum dances. There has been a resurgence of hand games throughout the Northwest Territories as youth pick up the drum, form teams and travel throughout the territory. Although it has brought the community together, there is also a lingering sense of gender inequality as women are not allowed to play in this region. Elders are seated close to the action so they can watch the youth play a game that they grew up playing. The revitalization of this time-honoured tradition is important in the current dialogue around Indigenous issues throughout Canada. Elders who grew up in an era where songs and ceremonies were banned can now watch their children play hand games without fear of persecution.