Meet the Dehcho Grand Chief candidates: Jim Antoine

·3 min read
Jim Antoine, former N.W.T. premier and Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation chief is one of three candidates vying to become the next Dehcho Grand Chief. ( - image credit)
Jim Antoine, former N.W.T. premier and Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation chief is one of three candidates vying to become the next Dehcho Grand Chief. ( - image credit)

The election for Dehcho Grand Chief is on June 28.

Three candidates are running to replace current interim Dehcho First Nations Chief Stanley Sanguez.

Sanguez took over as leader on March 2 after former leader Kenny Cayen was removed.

According to Lloyd Chicot, chief of Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation in Kakisa, Cayen's removal was a result of his being unavailable for meetings, his refusal to get vaccinated or to move to Fort Simpson, N.W.T., which are requirements for the position.

Herb Norwegian, Jim Antoine and Tim Lennie are all running for election.

CBC News will speak with each candidate ahead of the election.

Luke Carroll/ CBC
Luke Carroll/ CBC

Jim Antoine is the former chief of Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation, where he still lives, and a former premier of the Northwest Territories. He first came into a leadership position when he was 24.

He says he practises a traditional lifestyle as much as he can and has acquired "the core Dene knowledge" from listening to elders through his years of leadership.

The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity:

CBC News: Based on your long political resume, what lessons learned are you looking to bring to the role of Dehcho First Nations Grand Chief?

Jim Antoine: People don't really know what's going on with the whole process of trying to deal with the land and resources here in the Dehcho and the communication is not there to inform all the members of what exactly is going on.

I'd like to talk to all the different chiefs and the Métis leaders in the Dehcho and see how they view this particular area. It's a big one. It's an overarching concern.

We're dealing with the federal government and the territorial government in this case.

What do I bring here? It's many years of leadership and political organizations and working with people.

My approach has always been to be a team player. I try to include anybody and everybody that is concerned in all the different issues. And certainly I'll bring that approach to this leadership.

I think that with many years of experience and knowing how to contact people, having an idea of how Ottawa works as well as the territorial government and I think that working along with the other groups, the other Indigenous governments in the North certainly is an approach that I would like to take.

CBC News: It does seem like unity has been a challenge for the various Indigenous governments.  Do you have an approach to how to deal with that as the leader?

JA: I like to say I'm going to try to work with everybody and have a good connection and find out where they're at. And I have to go back to the original intent back in the early years of when this whole thing kicked off.

The way we see that treaty, our version of it is totally different from what the federal government and the GNWT keep espousing and so we need to clear that up.

The original intent of starting this whole negotiation is to assert our rights and have self-determination. And we want to do things our way on our land.

The Dehcho First Nations creation, I believe, is that the chiefs back in the day got together and said, 'Okay, we're going to start talking about this whole land and resources and we can't do it by ourselves.'

Some of the members have decided to go on their own, and we have to explore that, and I'm open to that.

So we need to look at it and to see whether there's merit in staying together or what kind of approach are we going to take.

I'm open to explore everything.

We need to come to an understanding between the groups to see how is it we're going to deal with this. So that's the way I see it.

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