Francois Paulette

30 Apr
Dene leader and activist, Francois Paulette.

Dene leader and activist, Francois Paulette.

I met Francois Paulette last year, at this photo session, but I had heard of him throughout my few years living in the North. He is a respected Dene elder who has always stood up to big oil, gas and mining development. In the early 1970’s, he was part of the Indian Brotherhood that fought for land claim rights when a potential oil pipeline was proposed for the Northwest Territories. He was a leader then and is a leader now, fighting against the Alberta oilsands that are allegedly polluting the water that flows North along the Athabasca River – a river that many First Nations rely on for drinking water and fish. In recent years, he has met anti-oilsands celebrities like director James Cameron and even took Prince William and Princess Kate on a canoe ride near Yellowknife. But he’s not in it for the PR stunts, he wants to see real change in how the environment is treated. And for that, he is one of Canada’s most respected leaders.

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