Director – Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation
Previous Chief, Knowledge Keeper, Environmentalist
A Dene Suline, Francois Paulette survived the residential school system before going on to become the youngest chief in the NWT Indian Brotherhood in 1971. In 1972, along with 16 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 remains a passionate and outspoken advocate of treaty and Aboriginal rights in all matters affecting his people, and is recognized in the courts as an expert witness on historic treaties. His work has taken him to the far corners of the world, including Palenque, Copenhagen, New York City, Melbourne, Oslo, Hawaii, and Durban. He was a founding member and chairman of the Dene Cultural Institute, and continues to serve as an interpreter of traditional knowledge and a facilitator of cross-cultural understanding. As a collaborator on a number of Canadian and international documentary films, he has helped to increase public understanding of the Dene way of life in addition to environmental issues affecting his people.