AFN NWT Regional Chief Gerald Antoine, Dene Nation, Delegation Lead
Gerald Antoine was born and raised at Gahtthiah, twenty-four miles upriver from the community of Łı́́ıdlı̨̨ Kų́ę́ in Denendeh (Northwest Territories). He is one of thirteen children born to Cecile and William Antoine. Both his grandfathers, Ehthelo and Nahkek’o, were present when Treaty 11 was made in 1921.
In 1974, Gerald received a two-year scholarship to attend the prestigious Lester B. Pearson College near Victoria, BC., where students from over fifty countries attended.
In 1975, Gerald witnessed the joint assembly of the Indian Brotherhood of the NWT (forerunner to the Dene Nation) and Métis Association of the NWT, where the Dene Declaration was developed and passed unanimously. In the following year, he was a witness and a presenter to the historic Berger Inquiry hearings. In 1977, he was chosen to be a spokesperson for the Dene Youth Assembly which organized a presentation to the Dene National Assembly held in Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta (Smiths Landing).
In 1977, he attended the Native Studies program at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario where he was elected President of the Trent University Native Association.
National Chief Antoine has since held several leadership positions prior to being elected Dene National Chief in December 2021. He served two terms as Chief of his home community, Łı́ı́ dlı̨̨ Kų́ę́, beginning in 1985 to 1988 and then was re-elected 2013 to 2017. Among his major accomplishments include working with the Indigenous Nations and preparations with his community people for the Papal visit in 1987. He also served as regional Dehcho Grand Chief first elected in 1993 to 1997 and then re-appointed in 2007 for an eighteen-month term. During his term, he was successful in re-establishing the Dene and Crown relationship based on the oral understanding of Treaty 11. He was a member of the Indigenous working group which drafted the original draft of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
In 1997, he was presented with a traditional drum and in 2010 he was selected as a cultural performer at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Between 2004 – 2008, he became a well-known Dene Announcer for CKLB Radio The Voice of Denendeh where he created a popular radio character, “Dene in the City.”
In 2010, Gerald assisted in the development and implementation of a strategic plan for Nah?ą Dehé (Nahanni National Park Reserve) including the reinstatement of Dene place names. Between 2012-2013, he accepted a position as intern to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Gerald Antoine’s life illustrates a life-long commitment to lead, inspire and engage people in the restoration and rebuilding of Dene culture, values, and priorities.
Gerald Antoine lives in Denendeh with his wife Beatrice and together they have three children, Nekia, Jonathan and Mary Ann and two grandchildren Akesha and Nazehi.