François Paulette 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.

Stephen Kakfwi, 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.

zoeJohn 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.


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.

downloadLeanne Betasamosake Simpson is a writer, scholar, storyteller and activist of Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg ancestry and is a member of Alderville First Nation. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, is an instructor at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge, Athabasca University.  She has also lectured at Trent University, Ryerson University,  the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg and Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning.

Leanne has worked with Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada and internationally over the past 15 years on environmental, governance and political issues.

She has published two edited volumes including Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of Indigenous Nations (2008, Arbeiter Ring), and This is An Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Barricades (with Kiera Ladner, 2010, Arbeiter Ring). Leanne has published over thirty scholarly articles and written for Now Magazine, Spirit Magazine, Anishinabek News, the Link, Briarpatch Magazine and Canadian Art Magazine, Geist and among many others.

Her third book, Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence was published in May 2011 and turns to Nishnaabeg theory and philosophy for guidance in building and maintaining resurgence movements. It is her hope that this work will inspire the regeneration Nishnaabeg systems of governance, language, and knowledge – systems that place women back at the centre of Kina Gchi Nishnaabeg‐ogaming.

Leanne is also a fiction writer and the 2012 winner of Briarpatch Magazine’s Writing from the Margins competition for short fiction.

Leanne is a traditional story-teller and spoken word artist. She has performed at the last four Ode’min Giizis festivals and at numerous story-telling events. Leanne’s work was a part of Mapping Resistances curated by Wanda Nanibush (with Rebecca Belmore, Archer Pechawis, James Luna, Tanya Lukin Linklater & Doug Williams) and ANDPVA’s Writer’s Room. She has performed spoken word with A Tribe Called Red as part of Nozhem First Peoples’ Performance Space All in the Family Residency, as part of gaabinjigabaa’aang where we come ashore and Zhishodewe…at the Water’s Edge (with artist/choreographers Rulan Tangen, Jerry Longboat, Norma Araiza, Sandra Lamouche and Waawaate Fobister) and at the Asinabka Indigenous Film and Media Festival. She is currently the co-director of Wii-Kendimiing Nishinaabemowin Saswaansing, a language nest for Nishnaabeg families and she is also a member of O’Kaadenigan Wiingashk artist collective.

Leanne’s fourth book, The Gift is in the Making, a collection of Nishnaabeg stories was published in May 2013 by the Debwe Series, Highwater Press. Her first book of short stories, Islands of Decolonial Love is now available from ARP Books and is accompanied by a full length spoken word album.

photo-LoisEdgeLois Edge holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Policy Studies with a specialization in Indigenous Peoples Education from the University of Alberta, where she also earned a Master of Arts in Anthropology and Bachelor of Arts.

Indigenous to the North and raised at Fort Smith and Hay River, Northwest Territories, Lois claims a rich ancestral legacy and northern cultural heritage of French, Cree, Chipewyan and Metis maternal ancestry and Gwich’in, Scottish, English paternal ancestry.

Her doctoral dissertation, inspired by her grandmother, applied digital storytelling as alternative representation in research in an examination of Indigenous women’s ancestral knowledge and ancient art forms in relation to Indigenous identity, lifelong learning and wellness of Indigenous people. Her work is intended to draw attention to the many contributions of Athapaskan women from northern Canada whose legacy is a rich endowment of Indigenous art forms from which current and future generations may continue to reclaim Indigenous ways of being.

Current Nexen Chair in Indigenous Leadership at the Banff Centre, Lois is an instructor with Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta and Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research at Athabasca University.

 imagesTanya Kappo is a University of Manitoba law graduate, currently articling in Alberta and living in Edmonton. At 41, she is the mother of three children, a son, 18, in his first year of engineering at her alma mater and two daughters, 16 and 9, at home.

Kappo is an activist for peaceful change to improve living conditions for First Nations people and Canadian understanding of indigenous people. Her father was Harold Cardinal, the Cree leader who authored the Red Paper in response to the 1969 White Paper.

Mary-Rose Sundberg (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.

coulthardGlen Coulthard 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.


Allice Legat 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.

KANE-1438-01Reneltta Arluk is of Inuvialuit, Gwich’in and Chipewyan-Cree descent originally from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. She is a graduate of the BFA Acting program from the University of Alberta and founder of Akpik Theatre, a professional Indigenous Theatre company in the NWT. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, being raised in a nomadic original environment gave Reneltta the skills to become the artist she is. For over ten years Reneltta has been a part of or initiated the creation of Aboriginal Theatre across various parts of Canada and overseas.

Recent and favourite acting credits include: Feature Film Maïna (Strada Films), reality series Dene a Journey (APTN), Within/Without (Akpik Theatre), self-written one-woman show TUMIT (Akpik Theatre/CANOE Festival/Talking Stick Festival), touring Greece in Utopian Floes (Caravan Stage Tall Ship Theatre) as part of its eclectic culturally diverse cast and crew, and Copper Thunderbird (National Arts Centre) where she became one of the premier recipients of the David S.R. Leighton Fellowship Award. Reneltta is now working on a new play about Tookoolito female woman guide to explorer Charles Francis Hall. She is about to go on tour with Human Cargo’s Night for the third year this time performing across Canada then over to Iceland and Greenland.

Reneltta is fortunate to continually work as an Actor/Storyteller/Playwright/Producer. As her mother says, “keep your culture alive.” Reneltta plans on doing that for a very long time.