On-the-land school Dechinta breathes easy with $5.2M in federal funding

All smiles for a group photo this morning as politicians and educators celebrated $5.2M in latest Trudeau budget for the Indigenous land-based accredited post-secondary facility. (CKLB/James O’Connor)

For most folks, news of another federal budget can be met with indifference or disdain.

But Kelsey Wrightson, executive director of the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, admits she was on the edge of her chair on budget day, April 16.

Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning executive director Kelsey Wrightson at announcement. (James O’Connor/CKLB)

Wrightson told a gathering today at Dechinta’s Yellowknife facility she was thrilled to hear the centre would received $5.2 million over two years.

“I was sitting at my desk on budget day, clicking refresh. And when we saw the announcement, it was a moment of a lot of gratitude, recognition of the efforts of all of our staff, all of our communities, the support from Minister (Dan) Vandal and MP (Michael) McLeod to get us here.

“The work we do, really has an impact. And we have heard from so many communities, that they’re ready for more programming, and they’re ready for more partnerships, and they’re ready for more collaborations. And what this announcement means is that we have two years to answer those calls and answer those requests.”

She said the new funding will allow programs in development be ready for fall enrolment in the Yukon and Nunavut and be able to expand the overall number of students, as there is a lengthy waiting list.

Minister Vandal and Minister of National Defence Bill Blair are in Yellowknife as part of the Trudeau government’s post-budget tour and took part in the ceremony.

Vandal, who lives in Winnipeg, characterized his government’s investment in post-secondary access for First Nation students as already historic, as it works to address inequities in education.

He said over the last five years, the number of First Nations Inuit and Metis with a bachelor’s degree has increased.

However, the university attainment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in Canada continues to grow.

Vandal said: “Northerners continue to face unacceptable inequities in education leaving themselves and their communities at a disadvantage.

“The future of Dechinta is very bright. I’m looking forward to the profound impact that you have on the lives of young students, who will have an important effect on their families, their communities, and this great country, Canada.”

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal and Defence Minister Bill Blair look over some displays at Dechinta Centre on Thursday. (CKLB/James O’Connor)


About the Author

James O'Connor
James O’Connor joined CKLB 101.9 FM at the start of 2024, after working as a journalist, photo editor and managing editor at newspapers in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. James also has experience in politics, arts, service clubs and the NWT’s non-profit sector. At this point in his lengthy career, James is thrilled to be working at such a unique media outlet and always welcomes notes from listeners at: james.oconnor@cklbradio.com.