is A Dene Suline and member of the Smith’s Landing Treaty 8 First Nation. He survived the residential school system before going on to become the youngest Chief in the NWT Indian Brotherhood in 1971. Over the next decade, he served as Chief in his own community and as Vice-Chief of the Dene Nation. In 1972, along with sixteen other chiefs from the Mackenzie Valley, he challenged the crown to recognize treaty and aboriginal rights and title to over 450,000 square miles of land in the historic Paulette case. He was also an outspoken advocate of treaty and aboriginal rights during the Berger Inquiry into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline and in appearances before the National Energy Board.
As Chief Negotiator for Smith’s Landing First Nation, François drew on his negotiation skills training from the Harvard and Banff Schools of Management and worked diligently to conclude a Final Settlement Agreement in 2000. He continues to serve as a consultant and negotiator for other First Nations, notably the Łutsel k’e Dene First Nation as they participate in the creation of the Thaydene Nene National Park. He also continues to involve himself in efforts to protect the natural environment of Denendeh.
, former Northwest Territories Premier (2000-2003) and Dene Nation President (1983-1987), has been at the forefront of the remarkable political, democratic, environmental, economic, cultural and geo-political transformations taking place over the past quarter century in Canada’s north. Born at a traditional Dene bush camp on Yelta Lake near Fort Good Hope, NWT in 1950, Mr. Kakfwi spent his early years on the land, learning the customs of his people and developing a life-long respect for the wilderness and its resources. An activist in the 1970s around the Mackenzie Pipeline and the Berger Inquiry, he went on to lead the Dene Nation as well as serve as cabinet minister in the territorial government for sixteen years. He has been outspoken in his beliefs on the importance of NWT Aboriginal participation in the northern political and economical mainstream, balancing northern resource development with stewardship of the land, and protecting and preserving NWT Aboriginal languages, culture and traditions.
John B. Zoe
is a member of the Tłįchǫ First Nation, born and raised and continues to reside in Behchokǫ̀ in the Northwest Territories. In the early years his community spoke only the traditional language, and stories were an every day natural routine. John became involved with Elders and community resource persons to revive the trails of our ancestor’s annual canoe trip where elders and youth share their experiences. The annual canoe trip is now on the 16th year and the experiences also revived and gave deeper meaning to our stories. John became the Chief Negotiator for the Dogrib (now Tłįchǫ) in 1992 to help settle the Land Claim and Self Government for the Tribe through negotiations with the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories. With the help of a team of tribal members and Elder Advisors, the negotiations were completed, approved and given effect on August 4, 2005. The Agreement is built on the stories that he and the team have heard, and with the help of the Elders, we have now added to the story. John is now the Tłįchǫ Executive Officer for the recognized Tłįchǫ Government, and the major part of his work is in managing the development of the governance and corporate structures.
was raised in Inuvik, NT, and has spent the last decade working for Dene, Métis, and Inuvialuit organizations in the Northwest Territories on self-government negotiations, and related processes including NWT devolution negotiations. She holds a BA and MA in political science from the University of Alberta, and received a PhD from Cambridge University, England during 2005, where her research focused on the relationship between Canadian Aboriginal policy, self-government negotiations and the social suffering experienced by Indigenous peoples. She currently lives in Yellowknife where she works as a political advisor, researcher and consultant to indigenous governments, and holds appointments as Adjunct Professor at the Canadian Circumpolar Institute at the University of Alberta and as Research Associate with the Stefansson Arctic Institute at the University of Akureyri, Iceland.
Therese and Modeste Sangris
teach Indigenous Medicines, Nutrition and Governance at Dechinta. Modeste and Therese were born in Dettah in 1939 and 1946 respectively. An arranged marriage, Therese only spoke Chipewyan and English and Modeste spoke only Dogrib when they met. They learned each others languages and have been married for 46 years. Modeste and Therese first began cultural teaching at Blachford over twenty years ago. Now lead Elder Professors at Dechinta, Therese teaches students how to survive using traditional nutrition. Modeste teaches traditional skills, setting nets under the ice in winter, settings traps, and fish nets. Through their cooperation and stories, Therese and Modeste demonstrate healthy and supportive relationships rooted in Dene history and values.
(née Sangris) is the great-granddaughter of Chief Jean Baptise Madzii Drygeese Chief Drygeese, who signed the treaty of 1921 (Treaty 8). Mary-Rose is the director of the Goyatiko Language Society in Dettah. Goyatiko is the premier language research, training and educational institute serving Yellowknives Dene Communities. A translator and community leader, Mary-Rose teaches language and history at Dechinta.
is a PhD Candidate in Educational Policy Studies with a specialization in Indigenous Peoples Education at the University of Alberta where she received a Master of Arts degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology in 2001. Her doctoral research considers the relationship of participation in traditional cultural activities, such as beadwork, to Indigenous identity, lifelong learning and well-being. Her work in the fields of Indigenous education and Aboriginal health includes participation in several Indigenous knowledge research initiatives involving collaboration with Aboriginal community members, Indigenous knowledge holders and multiple stakeholders. Lois is Academic Coordinator with the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research at Athabasca University. She is a Gwich’in/Cree Métis from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.
is the Roberta Bondar Fellow for Northern and Polar Studies
at Trent University, and an honorary researcher at the University of Aberdeen. Dr. Legat has decades of experience in participatory research in the Northwest Territories and is the co-author of many reports and papers with Dogrib knowledge experts. Allice currently serves as the Environmental Anthropologist of The Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board, which establishes policies and proposes regulations in respect of the harvesting of wildlife, approves plans for the management and protection of wildlife, the designation of conservation areas and endangered species, interim management guidelines and park management plans. The Board was created by the Tłįchǫ Agreement.
is a Weledeh Dene (Yellowknives Dene First Nation), holds a PhD from Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria and was recently appointed as an assistant professor, faculty of Native Studies, University of British Columbia. Glen was born in Sǫ̀mba K’è (Yellowknife) and grew up in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, and Kelowna, British Columbia. Before pursuing his doctorate, Glen earned an undergraduate degree in Native Studies and Philosophy at the University of Alberta and then a Masters degree in the Indigenous Governance Programs at the University of Victoria. Glen’s current research interests include contemporary political theory, the politics of Indigenous self-determination in Canada, Dene history and politics, and radical social and political thought. His dissertation critically examined the politics of recognition in light of the work of anti-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon.
is the Director of Communications & Technology at the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife, NT. Rajiv earned his B.A. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 1996 before working for five years at the Harvard School of Public Health in the HIV/AIDS field. Upon returning to Canada in 2002, he earned a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University. His thesis work focused on forest movements, women’s empowerment, and the struggle for cultural survival and sustainable livelihoods in the Indian Himalayas, marking the culmination of his lifelong ancestral interest in the region.
Rajiv has been pursuing doctoral studies at York University where he has served as a teaching assistant in geography and social sciences and videographer for a workshop series on curriculum diversity and equity. Upon arriving in the NWT in 2008, he completed a term of service as a coordinator for the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy as well as three semesters as a course instructor at Aurora College. In addition to serving as a facilitator for Dechinta’s popular education and research methodologies curriculum, he administers the Dechinta website.