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Chief T'Selehye School

Fort Good Hope

Fort Good Hope (or the Charter Community of K’asho Got’ine - “big willow people”) is also known as Rádeyîlîkóé, which in the Slavey language means, “the place of the rapids.” The settlement of Fort Good Hope was first established in 1804 as a Northwest Company fur trading post. Today it is a small Dene and Métis community with a population approximately 600. The community is located in the Northwest Territories approximately 40 km south of the Arctic Circle along the Mackenzie River in the Sahtu Region (Sahtu is the Dene name for the nearby Great Bear Lake). Fort Good Hope has an ice road in the winter; for the rest of the year people must fly in by airplane.

Chief T’Selehye

Chief Tselehye, for whom the school is named, was baptized in 1859. His baptismal name was Simon Tselehye. In July 1921, he signed Treaty #11 with the Government of Canada on behalf of the Dene of Fort Good Hope. One of his primary occupations was the provision of fur and country food for the Hudson’s Bay Company in exchange for trade goods and merchandise, which he shared with others and those in need. He used his influence with the traders and missionaries to provide leadership that was necessary to ensure the survival of the people.

Chief Tselehye died in 1925. His headstone is behind the Fort Good Hope church under the name “Chief Chilliay”.

Chief Tselehye (pronounced “tse-lee-a”) preferred to wear a fur coat made from the fur of the mountain ground hog, which in Slavey are called “tse-lee”. This is how he acquired his name. By the time of the signing of Treaty #11 the spelling of his name was changed to T’Seleie.

Source: Fumoleau, Rene, 2004. As Long as This Land Shall Last: A History of Treaty 8 and Treaty 11, Calgary, University of Calgary Press and Arctic Institute of North America.

Acknowledgement: John T’Seleie

Chief T’Selehye School

Prior to 1971 Fort Good Hope had a Federal Day School which later became a Territorial School. The first Chief T’Seleie School was in operation from 1971 to 2010.

The current new school building was occupied in November 2010. The official opening ceremony was in January 2011. It serves 100+ students from the community from Jr. Kindergarten through to grade 12 with a staff of 12 teachers and 10 support staff. The school has a gym and library, which are also utilized by the community.

The school’s key values are safety, ownership, achievement, and respect.

More about Fort Good Hope

Fort Good Hope was part of Treaty 11. This last of the numbered treaties covering the Mackenzie District was signed in 1921.

In 1993 the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement was signed entitling the Dene and Metis people of the region title to 41,437 square kilometres of land in the Northwest Territories.

The Mackenzie River is Canada’s longest river, called Deh-Cho in Slavey meaning “big river.” It flows from Great Slave Lake in southern NWT to the Arctic Ocean.

Hunting, trapping and fishing are important activities that provide income and food for the people.

Fort Good Hope was one of the communities at the heart of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry (the Berger Inquiry) in 1975. There was a proposal to build a pipeline to bring natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta region to the south. The people of the area spoke out against construction of the pipeline in order to protect their land.

The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope is a National Historic Site in Fort Good Hope. It was built in the 1870s by Catholic Oblate missionaries.

The Ramparts or Fee Yee, “in the rocks” in Slavey, are 35-40 metre high limestone cliffs that line a narrow section of the Mackenzie River just south of Fort Good Hope. At the upstream end of the cliffs are the Ramparts Rapids. This area was an important traditional fishing grounds and spiritual site. The site has been recommended to be designated as a National Historic Site.

For more information see: The Sahtu Atlas