Dene leaders recall Antoine
Michel’s skills on the land

Antoine and Mary Jane Michel. (Photo courtesy of Delores Betsina)

One of the North’s Dënesųłiné leaders was laid to rest on Thursday.

Antoine Michel and his family made one last trip together to aboard the Laura Jane to Fort Reliance from Łutselk’e.

His daughter Delores Betsina says her family was preparing for this occasion, sadly due to her mother Mary Jane’s passing a year and a half earlier.

A big crowd was expected in the community because her father was well known.

“He just loved what he was doing being a grandpa. Loving his grandchildren, and loved telling people about the land and how not to sell out. I’m going to remember that from the bottom of my heart,” Betsina told CKLB on Wednesday.

Akaitcho Chief Negotiator Don Balsillie worked closely with Michel during their time in leadership as community chiefs in the 1990’s.

“Lots of good memories about Antoine and our years working together as well as all our hunting trips we went on, and he showed up at my door this Spring in Fort Resolution and said ‘hey Don, you got a bed for me, I gotta rest up and get ready to do some goose hunting.’ Yeah we got many fond memories and we’re going to miss him,” said Balsillie.

Smith’s Landing Elder Francois Paulette attended many leadership meetings with Antoine But a boat trip near the proposed Thaidene Nene Park really stood out for Paulette.

“I was just watching him filleting a trout, and talking to the CEO of Parks Canada. Without looking he filleted that fish in three moves with that filet knife. Taking the skin off that fish was quite impressive,”described Paulette.


Friend and former Chief Felix Lockhart stressed the amount of Traditional Knowledge Michel held, as one of the last Chiefs who was selected by elders and former Chief Joe Lockhart to lead LutselK’e.

“He knew, especially in the Spring where to lay down a caribou hide around a fire, with just a little bit of canvas. That’s the way he was really at home on the land, and a lifestyle he developed,” added Lockhart.

Michel’s last four year term as chief was in 2014. He was recently elected to council this Spring. He passed away on Monday July 24, 2017 at Stanton Territorial Hospital. Antoine Michel was 64.

Photo Courtesy of Delores Betsina.


Well respected Elder, former chief of Lutsel K’e, Antoine Michel passes away (July 25, 2017)

About the Author

Josh Campbell
Josh Campbell has returned to the CKLB News Team. He covered female university soccer and volleyball in New Brunswick, prior to graduating from Loyalist College in Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ontario in 2007. He's covered politics and Indigenous stories in both the NWT and Yukon over the last 10 years.

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