Bill Erasmus

Dene National Chief and Regional Chief,

Assembly of First Nations, NWT


In July 2011, we welcomed all the delegates and people who attended the 41st Dene National Assembly in Fort Providence, Denendeh. A lot of work went into organizing and preparing for this event to bring the Dene together. The last assembly in this community was in 1995 and we were very pleased to return here for this event. 



Thank you to former Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge and his people for agreeing to host that assembly, we know it was a time of hard work with good discussions and enjoyment.



There are many issues that are before the Dene of the Northwest Territories.  It has been a difficult year with the territorial government challenging and competing for authority and control over our lands and resources.  We also know that the recent conservative majority government will not be easy to work with.  However, we must continue to support our communities that are either implementing self-government agreements or still in the process of negotiating new arrangements with the crown.  It should not matter which party wins a federal election in Canada when it comes to First Nations.  We have a unique relationship with the crown based on our treaty rights and titles. Canada is legally obligated to provide financial security to our nations and that must continue into the future.  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, now endorsed by Canada, must continue to be the basis for implementing our rights which are recognized as human rights.


We look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming 42nd Dene National Assembly which will take place July 2-6, 2012 in Whati, Denendeh.






Bill Erasmus was born in Yellowknife in 1954. He spent much of his life and his career in his homeland of Denendeh.


He acquired a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Alberta.  Chief Erasmus’ political expertise and strong leadership skills has brought significant change and advancement to all Peoples of the NWT.

He is a life-time advocate of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and a recognized Aboriginal leader worldwide. However, he still remains committed to the Dene Nation and his homeland Denendeh.


In 1993, Chief Erasmus received a Governor General commemorative medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, in recognition of his significant contribution to compatriots, communities and to Canada.  In 2005 he was the recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the accession of HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN to the throne.


Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus and Assembly of First Nations National Chief

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo address the Dene Leadership Meeting held in Dettah, Denendeh

February 22, 2011.



In 1987 Mr. Erasmus was elected National Chief of the Dene Nation, a position he still holds today.  He has also been a member of the Assembly of First Nations Executive Committee since 1987. Mr. Erasmus is Chair of the Chiefs Committee on Environment and Vice-Chair to the Finance Committee and Intergovernmental and International Relations.  He has previously held positions on many of the AFN Chiefs Committees.


Chief Erasmus Chairs the Centre for Nutrition and Environment of Indigenous Peoples, an independent research facility at McGill University established by Aboriginal Peoples of the North. Mr. Erasmus has contributed to communities in the NWT throughout his professional life as a fieldworker, reporter/photographer, researcher and negotiator for various First Nations communities and organizations.



Bill Erasmus presents Dene Nation flags to students at

the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.



Chief Erasmus is a visionary leader, well-grounded in his roots.  He is a skilled negotiator and incorporates his philosophy of connection to the land, community and Nation to resolve conflict and to be an instrument of change.  His deep respect for Elders, traditional knowledge and Aboriginal rights guides his vision to a better future for Indigenous Peoples worldwide.


He strongly believes in family and is a dedicated husband and father to his wife Reanna, son Lonny, and daughter Sarah.





Return To Top


© Copyright 1970-2012 Dene Nation. All rights reserved.