After months of conversation, collaboration, and community engagement, we are excited to begin telling the story of Ihdzí’, and what it will become for our community. Ihdzí’ (pronounced ID-T’SEH) is the word for “heart” in Northern Tutchone, and our intention is for it to be just that – the heart of the community. A place where community members and visitors may gather to socialize, eat, learn, or simply come to a place that is warm and welcoming.
Ihdzí’ is a collaborative initiative shared between Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Development Corporation and Yukon University’s Mayo Campus. Together we are working to build a space that supports gathering, growth, and belonging. Through dedicated support from CanNor until March 2025, we’re excited to welcome everyone into the space soon. But before we do, we want to share what you may expect.
Food For Purchase
We have heard from our community that prepared food for purchase is an important aspect of any community’s pulse. A place where you can gather over a meal, and where you simply may get a night off from cooking. We wholeheartedly recognize that providing a structure for long-term, consistently available prepared food is a community want and need. This is absolutely a pillar of Ihdzí’. However, it may look a little different from what we’re used to. At this time, a full-scale restaurant model presents a number of incredible challenges for a community of our size. Despite the commercial rent of the space being priced far below market rate, today’s rising transportation and food costs coupled with ongoing staffing shortages territory-wide have motivated us to determine a model that will be long-lasting and sustainable. Through a shared-kitchen model, we’re able to provide equity in access to a commercial-grade kitchen to several food businesses at once. This not only allows for a far more diverse set of available food options than any singular restaurant could provide, but it also means the opportunity for food businesses to scale in a sustainable way. The introduction of a shared kitchen space in the community will encourage core traditional values of sharing with others, on-the-land activities related to food, and community nourishment. The 4 core principles of Doolí (Northern Tutchone traditional law) are caring, sharing, respect, and teaching, and serve as key guidance for the development and governance of this project. By creating this space, we aim to reconnect people with the journey of their food, rebuilding their relationships and rediscovering the cultural significance of communal food preparation and sharing. Right now we’re busy with significant renovations and upgrades to the existing kitchen to support this vision. We can’t wait to share more about this aspect of Ihdzí’ soon – and how to get involved.
Diverse and Adaptive Programming
YukonU, Mayo Campus has been more than a partner in this initiative, they’ve been a collaborative visionary. The success of the Ihdzi’ Ihle Ts’ e Sewing Programs have provided energy to increase the program offerings, led by YukonU, to foster ongoing growth, learning, and connection with culture. Focused at uplifting Traditional Knowledge, and entrepreneurial and general skills and knowledge, programming will be community-informed and adaptive to the evolving needs of Mayo. At its heart, Ihdzí’'s program calendar will always be rooted in fostering ideas of wellness and belonging.
Consistent Hours of Operation
All of these initiatives are exciting and needed, but the foundation to all of it will be providing consistent and relevant opening hours. We are making a commitment with Ihdzí’ that hours will be public, and any changes for holidays or unforeseen circumstances will be communicated with the community. While programming and events will be part of Ihdzí’’s core offerings, providing ongoing and consistent hours of operation allows for Ihdzí’ to provide a dependable space to gather, eat, and socialize. It allows for that community pulse to flow through.
For NNDDC, Ihdzí’ is an important aspect of not only our corporate values - but the story of our profits. Part of the reason that we are able to build Ihdzí' alongside our incredible partners at YukonU, is through our reinvestment strategy of “sister investments”. This is where we’re matching revenue generating entities and actively telling the story of how those profits are reinvested into our community. Always with sustainably and community voices guiding us.
After over a year of planning, and months of renovation work, we’re excited that in early 2024 we will have more to share as we officially open Ihdzí’’s doors, launch its website, and begin sharing more opportunities on how you can get involved.