Northern News Features B.Dene Adventure

New tourism operator shows Dene way

B. Dene Adventures provides cultural experiences at camp near Dettah
Original Article: Northern News Services

Published Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011SOMBA K’E/YELLOWKNIFE

Fifteen years after the idea of running his own cultural tours was sparked while working for a Yellowknife tourism company, Bobby Drygeese has started his own business – B. Dene Adventures, a traditional Dene culture camp that teaches and promotes the Dene way of life.

“Like the elders did with us, they taught us the stories and everything we need to know to live on the land and now we’re taking over, and the elders are our consultants, our bosses.”

Bobby Drygeese’s new business is a traditional Dene culture camp that teaches the Dene way of life, called B. Dene Adventures. – Thandie Vela/NNSL photo
“Everybody reads everything about these explorers and whatever they read they think is true,” the Yellowknives Dene First Nation member said. “I do this to help people really understand the culture and who we are.

“Like the elders did with us, they taught us the stories and everything we need to know to live on the land and now we’re taking over, and the elders are our consultants, our bosses.”

Bobby Drygeese’s new business is a traditional Dene culture camp that teaches the Dene way of life, called B. Dene Adventures. – Thandie Vela/NNSL photo

With knowledge gained from growing up in Dettah, taking walks on the land, hunting and gathering with his father, and learning from his mother and others in the community, Drygeese is now providing day and overnight cultural experiences for classrooms, visitors, and families through B. Dene, short for “becoming Dene.”

 

His recently-erected 20- by 40-foot cabin, surrounded by tents and tipis to accommodate groups of up to 50, is located on the land where his grandmother was born, a 10-minute walk or one-minute boat or snowmobile ride across the bay from Yellowknife, just outside Dettah.

In addition to nature walks, services provided by B. Dene include handgames demonstrations, fishing, hunting and hunting preparations for moose and other animals, tours of the trails in the area, and, most importantly, lessons on the language and history of the Dene people, Drygeese said.

“I try to get them to understand this is how we lived before, this is what we did before,” he said. “Our ancestors were really strong people. That’s why we’re here.”

The father of two sons and two daughters emphasizes the importance of teaching children about the culture and history.

“You have to make sure they understand who they are, to be proud, and prepare them to be strong enough for their next hunt, their next journey,” he said.

To establish the business, Drygeese took advantage of GNWT programs including the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment’s Support to Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) program, and the Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing program, which aims to capitalize on the “rugged, pristine and isolated nature” of the NWT environment to draw visitors seeking authentic travel experiences that will put them in touch with nature.