Dene K'éh Kusān: Always Will Be There | Film and discussion with Y2Y and Dena Kayeh Institute - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


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Dene K’éh Kusān: Always Will Be There | Film and discussion with Y2Y and Dena Kayeh Institute

May 25, 2023 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

On Thursday, May 25, join us to learn how the Kaska Dena have, and continue to steward and protect Dene K’éh Kusān for all to experience, honor, and sustain, for generations to come.

Imagine a remarkable, intact wild place, abundant with grizzly bears, elk and caribou. A place where you can walk ancient Indigenous trails for weeks without meeting another soul. Somewhere both people and wildlife can thrive for generations to come.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) and Dena Kayeh Institute invite you to explore this incredible vision for Kaska lands, people, culture and way of life through Dene K’éh Kusān (pronounced “deh-nay kay koo-sahn”), which means ‘The People’s Way, Always.’

Located in the core of the Kaska Ancestral Territory in northern British Columbia, Dene K’éh Kusān — a proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) — also adds an important puzzle piece to the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

Join us on May 25 for a screening of the 24-minute documentary, Dene K’éh Kusān: Always Will Be There, followed by a discussion on the plan to protect this special, and important place for generations to come — and how you can help support these Indigenous-led conservation efforts.

Following the film screening, we will learn more about the plan for Dene K’éh Kusān from four speakers:

  • Gillian Staveley, director of culture and land stewardship, Dena Kayeh Institute
  • Tanya Ball (Dahkadle), coordinator for the Dane Nan Yḗ Dāh (Kaska Land Guardians) Network, Dena Kayeh Institute
  • Tim Burkhart, landscape protection manager, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
  • Norm MacLean, senior wildlife biologist, LGL Limited, and technical advisor, Dena Kayeh Institute

Gillian Staveley, Tanya Ball and Norm MacLean who will share more about the Kaska Dena vision for how this incredible landscape will always be there, and how they are working with partners to protect Dene K’éh Kusān in a way that creates jobs, supports a thriving Kaska culture, shelters threatened species and becomes a world-class protected area for future generations.

Y2Y’s Tim Burkhart will also discuss how Y2Y is working with the Dena Kayeh Institute on advancing this proposed IPCA; and how we can all be allies in achieving the Kaska Dena’s plan for Dene K’éh Kusān.

This free event will take place online on Thursday, May 25, 2023, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. PT / 7 – 8:30 p.m. MT. The webinar will be recorded, though we encourage you to attend the live event if you can. Register for free to save your spot.

About the speakers

Gillian Staveley, director of culture and land stewardship, Dena Kayeh Institute

Gillian Staveley is a Kaska Dena citizen whose heritage lies in the Muncho Lake region of Dena Kēyeh in Northern British Columbia. Gillian is passionate about promoting and educating others about the importance of multi-generational indigenous knowledge. In her work as a director for DKI, a Kaska-run non-for-profit and charitable organization, she helps tell the story of Kaska Stewardship within her traditional territory and works to ensure that relationships with her people and the land are done so through UNDRIP’s obligations and commitments.

Tanya Ball (Dahkadle), coordinator for the Dane Nan Yḗ Dāh (Kaska Land Guardians) Network, Dena Kayeh Institute

Tanya is a proud member of both the Kaska and Tahltan First Nations. Her love for the land and for learning from her elders about culture, language and traditional knowledge has directed her studies and guided a career path which focusses on helping to advance the Indigenous Guardians movement and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas. Tanya’s post-secondary education includes Certification in Earth and Environmental studies, Applied Environmental Techniques, Environmental Site Assessment Assistant Training, Advanced GIS, and the Boreal Guardian Program at Dechinta University.

Tanya currently works with the Dena Kayeh Institute as a Natural Resource Technician and guardian coordinator for the Dane Nan Yḗ Dāh Kaska land guardian program. She also works with the 3 Nations (Tahltan, Kaska, Taku River Tlingit) Society as the 3 Nations land guardian coordinator. Tanya brings front-line experience, deeply ingrained Kaska values, and a clearly articulated Indigenous perspective to her responsibilities representing the Kaska Nation at various public government management boards, advocacy forums and tables addressing policy matters and influencing decisions being made about the land and resources within the Kaska traditional territory.

She relishes being with young people on the land and leads with energy, commitment and passion in her work developing and coordinating the Kaska guardian program. Tanya continues to be excited by the opportunity to grow the data they collect and to work with the youth and elders, whose collective efforts she believes will provide a major contribution to the Kaska vision of realizing their goal to be the decision -makers guiding and shaping the future of their homelands for generations to come.

Norm MacLean, senior wildlife biologist, LGL Limited, and technical advisor, Dena Kayeh Institute

Norm MacLean, is a wildlife biologist with over 34 years of professional experience in Alaska, Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Yukon Territory. Prior to joining LGL Limited in 2002, Norm worked with provincial and territorial environmental agencies in northwestern British Columbia, and in the Northwest Territories. Norm has had the privilege of working for Dena Kayeh Institute, Kaska Dena communities and Kaska organizations for over twenty years. In addition, Norm has been working with the 3 Nations Society (Kaska, Tahltan, and Taku River Tlingit Nations) and member Nations.

Norm has experience on terrestrial ecosystems and wildlife habitats in boreal forests including woodland caribou, moose, bears, and wolves. He has been involved on the advancement of wildlife co-governance, co-management, information sharing, and joint decision-making agreements and applications of indigenous laws, principles, knowledge and practices. He has provided support for Kaska initiatives including guardian programs and the Dene Kʼéh Kusān – Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area.

Tim Burkhart, director of landscape protection, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Tim has a lifelong love of wild places, and has experience in political organizing, park management, and research. Prior to joining the Y2Y team, Tim was committed to driving positive change as an organizer for multiple political, non-profit and labor campaigns.

As landscape protection director at Y2Y, Tim supports Indigenous-led conservation, working with local communities, scientists, government, industry and other interested parties to conserve biodiversity and wildlife connectivity in the Yellowstone to Yukon region. He advocates for conservation solutions in provincial policy initiatives, engaging with decision makers on ecological legislation and policy campaigns.

Tim lives in Nanaimo, B.C., with his partner Zoe, and dogs Mickey and Pippin.

About the film

“The Dena Kayeh Institute (DKI) is proud to bring together our communities, friends, and supporters, to share in Kaska storytelling with Dene K’éh Kusān, Always Will Be There.

Through this film, we hope to introduce the world to Dene K’éh Kusān, and to our people, culture, and our way of life. All are anchored to the land.

Narrated by DKI’s President, Kaska Elder, and well-known Indigenous Leader, Dave Porter, Always Will Be There shares the Kaska Dena vision for how we can protect and care for four million hectares of land and water — the largest remaining intact landscape in British Columbia.

Dene Kʼéh Kusān is at the very epicentre of our traditional territory, where you won’t find any roads or powerlines, but you can feel the heartbeat of our people in the boreal forests, in the towering mountains, and in the confluences of the rivers.

The Kaska Dena have cared for these lands and waters since time immemorial. Now, we are drawing on Kaska knowledge and stewardship to protect Dene Kʼéh Kusān for all to experience, honour, and sustain, for future generations.”

Header photo: Courtesy of Dena Kayeh Institute

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