Former Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ chief Gerald Antoine has been named the next Dene National Chief.
“I really appreciate the Dene people and I’m really proud to be a Dene today,” says newly elected chief, Antoine.
Antoine and his family sat patiently awaiting the results from a virtual call on Dec. 9.
He says he was honoured to be joined by his two sons, Jonathon and Nekia Antoine in this momentous moment.
Jonathon said the feeling was overwhelming, but he was immensely proud of how far his father had come.
“I never really contemplated being in this position,” he says, “I think what really inspired me is the place where I came from, my home is the land.”
He attributes his connection to the land and family to giving him strength and keeping his well-being a priority throughout the election process.
Jonathon says his father’s connection to his language,” is the key to moving forward in a really positive way.”
And that starts with having the right people contributing to the conversation.
Conversations are underway he says in re-aligning the direction of the Dene Nation, to include more Elder and youth participation.
“Enough is enough,” he says, ” things need to go our way and we need to take the lead.”
“I’m in a position here to be of service to people to help them, to support them in achieving their place in the community of nations.”
“We can really grow this family tree, the way that it has been happening before treaty,” he says.
Antoine speaks on unifying the Dene people above all else, “we are going to be moving forward positively. openly, honestly, as a Dene family.”
Antoine describes his relationship with the former Dene National Chief as a sort of extended family, as he calls him a brother and mentor.
“I’d like to thank Norman, for the commitment that he made in the past few years and for opening up possibilities,” he adds.
Runner up Norman Yakeleya received 88 votes to Antoine’s 128.
He will serve three years in this position.
In the coming weeks, Antoine is preparing to travel to Yellowknife to prepare for the Annual General Assembly.
The swearing-in ceremony has yet to be announced.