Prince William and Kate's trip to Yellowknife next week will include a tour of the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a "bush university" that combines academia and aboriginal knowledge in a northern wilderness setting.


Students at Dechinta take part in a course on 'writing from the land' during the program's pilot offering in June 2010. ((CBC))

The royal couple will travel by float plane to the Blachford Lake facility on Tuesday afternoon, following a packed day of activities in the Northwest Territories capital.

Following their 20-minute flight to Blachford Lake Lodge, where most of Dechinta's programs are offered, William and Kate will be given an opportunity to try moosehide tanning and fish drying, as well as meet with Weledeh Dene elders, according to centre officials.

"We'll start with a language lesson," Kyla Kakfwi Scott, Dechinta's program director, told CBC News.

"They'll be sitting down with one of our Weledeh language experts and learning how to introduce themselves and say 'Thank you' — sort of preparing them for the interaction with elders that will take place."

Established last year, Dechinta offers university-accredited programs in which students live "off the grid" at Blachford Lake to learn about northern aboriginal culture, governance, and perspectives on climate change, education and other issues.

The intensive 12-week programs place equal value on Western-style academia and traditional aboriginal knowledge.

Discussion with young people

While at Dechinta, William and Kate will join a facilitated discussion on what Kakfwi Scott described as a "fireside lecture hall."


Prince William and Kate will be given an opportunity to try moosehide tanning during their visit to Dechinta on Tuesday. ((CBC))

"Certainly the opportunity to sit down and talk to other people in their same age group from a very different context, I think is going to be really interesting to everyone involved," she said.

"The chance to just have an open dialogue and open conversation, I would imagine that's hard to come by."

Yellowknife resident Moses Hernandez, who studied aboriginal self-governance at Dechinta last summer, will be among those who will take part in the conversation with the royal couple.

"We touched on issues that were really controversial — deep, thought-provoking stuff like decolonization," Hernandez said.

"This time, I feel like I'll be comfortable enough to explain how the experience [of Dechinta] affected me and to share that with the royal couple."

Kakfwi Scott said Dechinta invited William and Kate to the facility because of their young age, as well as their focus on youth philanthropy.