NWT Sahtu youth help write book celebrating Dene heroes

A book celebrating Dene heroes and written by Sahtu youth is slated to be released next month.

The collection of stories and images recording Sahtu history will be released next month

The book contains drawings by Sahtu youth, including this picture of Colville Lake by Devin Manuel. (from Dene Heroes)

A book celebrating Dene heroes and written by Sahtu youth is slated to be released next month.

"Dene Heroes of The Sahtu" is a collection of stories about inspirational Dene people.
The 118-page book is the first installment in a series of books about the Sahtu. (submitted by Mary-Anne Neal)

David Codzi, president of the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation, says the book was a chance to record and write down Sahtu history — something lacking in current school curriculum.

"We've all gone to school and we've learned about other people's history not our own. So the idea came that we needed to have something creative in place," he says.

Codzi says youth from Fort Good Hope, Tulita, Colville Lake, Norman Wells and Deline had to reflect on who they thought of as heroes.

"School aged children [were] looking at their families; looking at the people that they sometimes go out with, like going hunting, or who they think is a good hunter; who they think that works hard, a parent or a family member; some have chosen legends and stories," says Codzi.

Mary-Anne Neal with Colville Lake's David Codzi (left) and Fred John Barnaby at Royal Roads University in Victoria. (submitted by Mary-Anne Neal)

The youth conducted their own research and shared their stories, drawings and photographs in the 118-page book.

Codzi says it was a big success. He says the exercise was also used to motivate students to want to go to school, to want to learn and to research their own history.   

"Dene Heroes of The Sahtu" was edited by Mary-Anne Neal of Royal Roads University, who also directed the project. She says 40 people contributed to the book's publication. Contributors ranged from 12 years to 35 years of age.

This past September, Neal talked to students at various schools in the region about the project. One month later she collected their stories and assembled the book.
A drawing from the book by Jack Kochon. (from Dene Heroes)

Neal says that "Dene Heroes of The Sahtu" is the first book in a series that will release a new volume of stories every year.   

The book's launch will kick off with drumming, prayers and dance performances at the Chief T'Selehye School in Fort Good Hope on Jan. 13.