Florence Hamilton’s presentation begins with a definition of who the Sayisi Dene are, how and where they lived their nomadic life before European contact.  Stories of hunting, trapping, and fishing and the important role the caribou played in providing food, shelter and clothing, is shared with visitors. There is a display of tools, handicrafts, hides and furs that visitors can touch and feel. Beadwork, drums, sinew for sewing thread, and relevant literature is also on display. Florence says that her presentation has appeal for all, including community elders who were younger during her people’s difficult days in Dene Village. Her presentation includes a discussion of the Dene language – Denesuline, often simply called Dene, and Florence has some words to share. “I am not fluent, but I like to use at least one Dene word a day,” she says.

Florence says that while elders and visitors appreciate and learn from her tour, it is the younger people and students who are completely transformed by the powerful Dene Routes presentation. Bringing her people’s cultural history to the forefront helps today’s generation know who they are, she says. She says her 10-year-old grandson is already benefiting from a childhood rich in cultural knowledge. “He has a strong voice and knows who he is when it comes to the land. He’s already taking a leadership role with his drumming,” she says.

Continuing to support traditional knowledge is key. There is already a community caribou harvesting program in place at Tadoule Lake with an aim to help the community become more self-sustaining. The hunt takes youth on the landscape to learn land skills and play a part in food security and community well-being.

Scroll to Top