Erin Freeland Ballantyne


Erin Freeland Ballantyne's picture
Name: Erin Freeland Ballantyne
Organization: Dechinta Bush University: Centre for Research and Learning
Title: Director, Dechinta Bush University
Raised on caribou and northern lights in Yellowknife, Erin Freeland Ballantyne is a participatory video trainer and uses a unique methodology of participatory video research to investigate the insights communities simultaneously experiencing climate change and oil and gas development in the Arctic can teach the world towards the realization of sustainable development. Erin received an honors degree in International Development from McGill University, and an MSc from Oxford in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy. Her DPhil developed a Youth Video Research Crew in Fort Good Hope, who with the Elders are her bush university, destabilizing traditional research processes into a community practice of learning and knowing. Erin has traveled, trained and studied across the world, from India to the Amazon and is awed by local people's expert relationships with their territory and resource management strategies. The goal of Erin's work is to support Arctic and Northern human capacity to develop Canadian policy and practices reflective of the natural Canadian traditions of balance and respect rooted in First Nations governance, politics and resource management. Erin teaches a Master's course in political ecology and resource management at Oxford's Centre for the Environment and is part of Canada's Beyond Three Oceans Team, developing a small-boat network for community-based ocean monitoring in the Northwest Passage. Erin is the founder of Dechinta, the first land-based centre in the Northwest Territories offering university credited educational experiences co-taught by elders, professors and community leaders to support local people to lead the future. An avid cross-country skier and budding bow hunter, Erin was the first Rhodes woman to have a baby while on stipend. Erin's daughter Uma, now 5 is the same age as Erin's doctorate.

Challenge Entries

Dechinta was born out a desire to decolonize education opportunities in Denendeh and beyond- to shape a respectful and healing community of learning honoring place and the diversity of our communities. After gathering an advisory circle of northern leaders, research was undertaken to identify barriers to post-secondary. Dechinta then designed and tested an intergenerational land-based university credited program focused on critical issues facing northern communities rooted in family learning.