UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Kaska Dene : a study of colonialism, trauma and healing in Dene Kēyeh Farnell, Gillian


This research contributes to an emerging field of literature examining cultural disjunctures in which traditional and contemporary ways of life and perceptions of cultural knowledge are being disassociated from each other. This study examines the disjuncture associated with the perception of Dene Kēyeh, ‘The Peoples Country’, a region of Kaska Dene traditional territory, as contemporary neoliberal ideologies compete with traditional Dene K’éh philosophies and worldviews. Employing an ethnographic and indigenous framework using participatory observations and in-depth interviews, I explore this disjuncture through my own personal experience as well as the knowledge of other members and stakeholders of Dene Kēyeh. In exploring the causes and effects of this disjuncture, my thesis develops a specific history of colonialism, trauma and healing among the Kaska Dene of Dene Kēyeh. I utilize theories of discourses of power, affective emotion, post memory and postcolonialism to illustrate how the outcome from one example of the oppressive processes of colonialism, Indian Residential Schooling, has contributed to multigenerational trauma and cultural identity loss and contesting landscape perceptions of Dene Kēyeh. The study identifies the affective outcomes of trauma from colonization and its transmission across generations while also exploring indigenous relationships to the land as being essential for the healing of such trauma and the prevention of its future transmission. Through this investigation of residential schooling in Dene Kēyeh and its impacts on landscape perception, I argue that past and present day experiences of Dene Kēyeh are essential to such intergenerational healing and should be used to reframe the existing dialogue about how we, as a people, should interact with Our Land – Degun.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada