Today the Katlodeeche First Nation Reserve is a thriving community. Since the 70’s, it has healed many wounds and built a viable economic base for itself and for its children. Development continues on many fronts, and the Dene continue to find answers to today’s problems that are both innovative and consistent with their traditions.
Government and Daily Life
Members of the Reserve comprise the Hay River Dene Band, and every three years they elect a Chief and six Councilors to guide them. These officials operate in much the same manner that a town council does, legislating by-laws and making amendments as required. The administrative head of the Band is the Band C.E.O, who oversees the operation of the Band Office and the personnel in its employ.
Many of the Dene on the Hay River Reserve still makes a living through traditional means, such as fishing, hunting, and trapping. The incorporation of snowmobiles, rifles, and modern fishing boats into these tasks is a prime example of how many Dene are combining the best of two worlds to make a living.
Others on the Reserve have opted for non-traditional employment, finding jobs in the many new industries and opportunities on the Reserve many self employed, or working across the river in the town of Hay River.
Business Ventures for Today and Tomorrow
Since its inception the Hay River Dene Band has been very successful in building an economic base that ensures a secure future for the Reserve. It has targeted markets ranging from retail in the form of Ehdah Cho Store - gas and groceries, a helicopter partnership - Denedeh Helicopters Ltd.
Other ventures of a more innovative nature include Evergreen Forestry Management Ltd., which employs twenty to forty people in the summer to manage forest fire suppression between the communities of Hay River and Fort Providence.
Plans for the future include the possible development (place additional Businesses), and more infrastructure and services, such as a (Services), for the Hay River Reserve. These ventures are important because, in addition to providing jobs and economic self-reliance, they help restore the pride of the Dene people.
Healing and Rekindling Tradition
In the last thirty years, the Dene have come a long way toward reclaiming the dignity and self-sufficiency that were center points of their culture for so long. Repairing a culture, however, is not easy. There is much work still to be done.
The many symptoms of a fragmented society - drug and alcohol abuse, violence, welfare dependency, and suicide to name a few - demand constant attention. In addition to this, there is the ever present threat of further fragmentation as new technologies continue to make traditional lifestyles obsolete, and elders die without passing along the full extent of their knowledge.
The Hay River Dene Reserve recently completed two projects aimed at healing and caring for its own. One, the Judith Fabian Center, is a senior care facility that offers two levels of treatment.
Elders who are still quite strong but require occasional assistance can live in one of the five cabins that surround the facility, while those who are in need of more intensive care can live in the facility’s apartments.
The second facility, the Hay River Reserve Nats’ejee K’eh Treatment Centre, provides primary care for alcoholism and drug dependencies. The Treatment Center incorporates traditional Dene healing practices in its treatment of clients.
The Dene Cultural Institute has many tasks aimed at keeping Dene culture strong. These include the collection and advancement of Dene traditional knowledge, development of research projects appropriate to Dene culture, education of both Dene and non-Dene, interpretation of Dene values, and the general support and promotion of all it means to be Dene.
Since its inception, the DCI has met with much success in its operations. As a result, a new facility is being developed to meet increasing activity and demands on the organization. The new facility will be located to the immediate north of the Treatment Centre and will be of major interest to anyone visiting the Reserve,
The K’amba Carnival
Although it does not offer summer weather, the K’amba Carnival is a great opportunity for visitors to participate in Reserve life.
Held in early March, the Reserve comes to life as people gather from all over to race dogs, compete in the talent show, and enjoy many indoor and outdoor activities,
The people of Katlodeeche First Nation would like to thank you for your interest and invite you to visit our home. We are proud of our community, and we look forward to the opportunity to share our history and culture with you.
A Visitor Resource Centre is now in operation on the Reserve. The Centre will provide visitors with the opportunity to observe local artisans at work and to purchase their products. In addition, storytelling sessions with Dene elders and drum dances will be regularly scheduled. Teepees, walkways, cooking fires, and picnic tables surround the Centre, and visitors are invited to come and enjoy a picnic and beautiful view of the Hay River.
So, whatever time of year it is, pull off the highway and pay us a visit. You’ll be glad you did.