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A Special Place

Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday has worked hard to establish herself in Canada’s music industry, but along with her successes, she’s lost a part of her culture. Leela returns to her home community of Deline to take part in learning the art of making a traditional tanned moose hide. She discovers the practice may have more to do with ancient ways then her modern time schedule.

EPISODE 2

A Special Place

Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday has worked hard to establish herself in Canada’s music industry, but along with her successes, she’s lost a part of her culture. Leela returns to her home community of Deline to take part in learning the art of making a traditional tanned moose hide. She discovers the practice may have more to do with ancient ways then her modern time schedule.

“I think I am just so in the work and so focused on finishing the things we have set out for ourselves this week that I’m not even thinking about the rest of my life right now, it’s just focused on this moment.”

- Leela Gilday

Deline and Sahtu Region

The town of Deline is located in the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories on the Western shore of Great Bear Lake. The people of Deline are mainly Dene and Metis, many of which are related to the Hare, Gwich’in and Mountain Dene Peoples.

In 1825 the Hudson’s Bay Company erected an outpost for Sir John Franklin’s second arctic expedition.  The outpost became known as Fort Franklin.  Sir John Franklin wrote about his men playing an ice sport described to be very similar to what we now call Ice Hockey. From this, Deline lays claim to being the birthplace of the sport of hockey. The town changed its name from Fort Franklin to Deline, meaning, “where the waters flow”, in 1993.

During World War II, the government started producing Uranium at the Eldorado Mine located about 250 kilometers from Deline in Port Radium. Many of the Dene men were able to find work here however, because there was little knowledge of the effects of radioactive materials, it is believed that many of the Dene people became sick from the radiation.

Artists in the Sahtu Region are well known for their work with moose hides, making traditionally sewn items such as moccasins, mukluks and mitts that are intricately decorated with beadwork, embroidery and locally harvested fur.

The Sahtu Dene and Metis are beneficiaries of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. This Agreement also provides for the negotiation of self-governing agreements. The parties’ involved aim to have a draft of this Agreement-in-Principal completed in 2015.

Leela Gilday

Leela Gilday

    Leela Gilday is a Juno Award winning singer/songwriter from Deline. After living in southern Canada for 15 years, Leela Gilday moved back to her hometown of Yellowknife, where she has now been living for over a year. In the past few years, Leela has spent time in Deline learning to make dry meat, dry fish and recording old time Dene Love songs. She has not yet worked on a moose hide and is looking forward to the experience.