Since 1983, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) has followed the custom electoral system outlined in the Indian Act. In addition to our Chief, our council consists of four councillors. A council of ACFN Elders, representing the main family groups within ACFN, also provides traditional customary governance support.
Strategic priorities for 2020–2023
1 Administrative capacity building
2 Economic development
4 Health and well-being
6 Natural resources and environment
7 Treaty Rights and governance
The ACFN Elders Council works with Chief and council to provide strategic advice and guidance. They help shape policies, guide relationships with industry and government and provide strategic direction and guidance for our ACFN staff and leadership. Most importantly, our Elders Council provides insight into the history of our Treaty rights.
Archie Cyprien, Chair
Jim Deranger, Co-Chair
Jessi Ann Laviolette
Our former Chiefs
Chief Allan Adam
Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation was born in Edmonton, Alberta and was raised on the land with strong traditional Denesuline teachings and values. He is a proud husband, father and grandfather. Allan grew up in the community of Fort Chipewyan where he continues to reside with his family. True to his upbringing, he values his time spent on the land, practicing his inherent treaty rights.
Allan began his leadership role in 2003 when he was elected as a councillor for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. In 2007, Allan was elected Chief and was re-elected in 2011. Chief Adam’s dedication and leadership to the protection and preservation of his members and territory has been recognized through numerous awards including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, Postmedia top movers and shakers award in 2012, and the Canadian Boreal Initiative award in 2010.
Chief Adam has dedicated his time and effort to ensuring that Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation lands, culture and rights are protected now and into the future. He prides himself in taking a strong stance to advocate for the protection of the environment and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation homelands.
Dënek’odhere Allan Adam Athabasca Dënesųłı̨ne xa Kǫ ́ nedhe Alberta ts’en nǫ ́ k’enı̨yá nı̨. T’atthë hots’ı̨ Chıef Adam nǫ ́ nısı̨ ts’en neyą nı́ dënesųłı̨ne ch’alanıé t’á. Dëne tá chu dëne tsıé hęlı̨ benık’esı ́ ́ sı̨. K’aıtël kuę neyą nı̨, ɂedųhų hots’en ɂeyer nadher bëkuę thëłtsı̨. ɂëdųhų ts’en t’ąt’ú neyą k’esı́ yatı́ ɂá ghëgál sı, nıh k’e sǫlaghë tsąmba yatıe t’á ghëgál sı.
Allan t’atthë dëne natthë nı̨łtı̨ 2003 nę̈nę̈ k’e dëne k’odherase xa. 2007 nę̈nę̈ hu dëne k’odhere ha nı̨łtı̨ nı̨. 2011 nę̈nę̈ k’e hu dąłtı̨ nı. Hotıe dëne xa theyı̨ sı dëne nę̈nę̈ k’ëdarënı̨ ha dënëk’odhere Allan, ɂeyı t’á tth’ı hotıe bëk’anotá hıjá sı́. 2013 nę̈nę̈ k’e hu Queen’s Dıamond Jubılee ts’ékuı t’á k’oldher bets’ı̨ gál bëtł’at’ą nı, ku Postmedıa tth’ı yëk’anëłtá sı ɂasıe naıłna dëne k’esı́ ɂeyı chu Canadıan Boreal Inıtıatıve ts’ı̨ dëne award hayı̨lá nı̨ 2010 nę̈nę̈ k’é.
Dëne k’odhere Adam hotıé dënesųłı̨ne nę̈nę̈ k’edarënı̨ sı, dëne ch’alanıe tth’ı k’edarënı́ sı yunádhë dëne godhë hobá. Hotıe benı́ k’esı́ sı, nıh k’edarënı́ ha dënesųłı̨né nę̈nę̈ nąne hoɂá xa.
Chief Archie Cyprien
1983–1987 / 1995–2007
Archie Cyprien was born in 1952 to Edward Cyprien and Celine Piche at Point Brûlé (AB), a Chipewyan reserve on the Athabasca River. Archie married Donna Flett in 1973, the daughter of Charlie and Ruth Flett. Through his mother’s side of the family, he is a great-grandson to Alexandre Laviolette.
Archie spent eight years in the residential school in Fort Chipewyan, and continued his education at Fort Smith (NWT), Grouard (AB), St. Paul (AB), and Edmonton (AB), where he graduated high school. He continued his post-secondary education and became a welder. In 1981, after having lived in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, he returned to Fort Chipewyan to stay.
Chief Cyprien was the first elected Chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and served four terms (1983-1987, 1995-2007). He also served as a councillor for the First Nation from 1987 until 1991, and was the Treaty 8 Grand Chief for one term. When he became Chief in 1995 (his second term), the ACFN Business Group had only six employees. His vision and leadership was very important in building the group of Band owned companies to what it is today.
Archıe, 1952 nę̈nę̈ k’e yudaghë dësnëdhe k’eyaghë hochëlá Brûlé Athabasca Rıver hots’ën nǫ ́ k’ënı̨yá nı̨. Archıe Bëtthıkuı ́ ́ Edward Cyprıen chu bą Celıne Pıche nı̨. Archıe 1973 nę̈nę̈ k’e Donna Flett gá nedá nı. Charlıe chu Ruth Flett bëlı̨yé. Archıe bąsëk’adhë hu, Alexadre Lavıolette ts’ı̨ɂąne dëne hęlı̨ sı.
Archıe ɂëłk’edı̨ghı̨ nę̈nę̈ hots’en dëne xare kuę naı̨dher nı̨ Kaıtël kuę, ɂeyer tł’ąghë hu yudá Tthëbachá (NWT) hots’en ɂerıhtł’ıs kuę ká heyá nı, Grouard (AB), St. Paul (AB) chu Kǫnëdhë hu ɂerıhtł’ıs kuę ɂënat’é nı. Ɂerıhtł’ıs kuę nëdhë tth’ı́ danı̨yá hu tsątsąne ɂëłet’us dëne xa honëłtą nı̨. Ku 1981 hu Kǫnëdhe chu Tthı̨dłı̨ kuę naı̨dher nı̨. K’aıtël kuę nı̨kę ́ rędher nı̨ nádher há.
T’atthë dëne k’ódhere holı̨ 1983-1987 hots’en hu bëtł’ąghë 1995 hots’ı 2007 hots’ën dëne xa ghı̨yı̨ nı. Ku ɂeyı datëdhe dëne k’odherase ghı̨lé nı 1987 hots’ı̨ 1991 hots’en. Ɂı̨łá tth’ı k’oldher nëdhë Treaty 8 ha tth’ı ghı̨yı̨ nı. Ku t’oho dëne k’odhere holı̨ 1995 ( na dëne xa ghı̨yı̨) ACFN busıness ɂëłk’etąnı́ dëne hut’á nı̨. Ɂedırı t’á honëtthë nëłɂı̨h ɂá ɂedųhų nezų hoɂą sı.
Chief Tony Mercredi
Tony Mercredi was born in 1947, the son of Antoine Mercredi and his wife Victorine Marcel. He was raised at Old Fort, a Chipewyan Reserve on Lake Athabasca. He attended residential school in Fort Chipewyan and continued his education at Grandin College (Fort Smith) and Edmonton, where he graduated from high school. He worked for the Indian Association of Alberta as an Executive Assistant to Harold Cardinal. Later, he studied Political Science at the University of Western Ontario and worked for several organizations. He finally returned to Fort Chipewyan in 1989, and in 1990 he became the Band Manager for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
In 1991, Tony was elected Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. A short time later he was elected as Grand Chief of the Grand Council of Treaty 8 First Nations. In both roles, Chief Mercredi worked hard to bring the political, land claims, and environmental issues that confronted these First Nations to the attention of provincial and national decision-makers. He planned and hosted the first Water Conference in Fort Chipewyan in 1992.
Tony Mercredi was married to Trish Merrithew.
Dënek’ódhere Tony Mercredı nı̨ yunisi 1947 nǫ ́ k’ënı̨ya. Antıone Mercredı bëta nı̨, Vıctorıne Marcel bą ́ nı. Yunąnë Old Fort ts’ën néyą tunëdhë tą ́ bąghë nı̨húłdzaı́ k’eyaghë. Kaı́ tël kuę dënexarë kuę naı̨dher nı ɂeyer tłąghë hu Tony Tthëbacha ts’ën Grandın College heya nı̨. Kǫn nëdhë ts’en tth’ı́ këredher hu ɂeyer ɂerıhtł’ıs kuę ɂenat’é nı. T’átthë bëlá Indıan Assocıatıon Alberta hel ɂlá ghı̨yı̨ nı̨ Harold Cardınal t’áłɂá. Ku ɂeyı lá ɂënat’é hu Ontarıo ts’en ɂerıhtł’ıs kuę nëdhe kahëyá nı̨ Unıversıty of Western Ontarıo ts’en. Polıtıcal Scıence hulye hónëłtą nı̨. Tony ɂëłk’ech’á lá ghı̨yı̨ nı̨. 1989 hu, K’aı́ tëlë nı̨kęrędher nı̨. Ku 1990 hu K’aıtël kuę xa tsąmba k’odhere hólı̨ nı̨.
1991 nęnę k’e, Tony dënek’odhere holı̨ nı̨ K’aıtël xa. ɂeyer tł’ąghë hu Treaty 8 Grand Councıl ha k’odhëre nedhë holı̨ nı. Banëłt’u la ɂá Tony dëne xa ɂełk’ech’a ɂasıe łą thëłtsı̨ nı horëlyų dëne xa, nıh chu t’á dëne ɂasıe hel horëná sı provınce chu t’ą dëne yëk’ënarade hel dëne xa ɂası thëłtsı̨ nı. Tony tth’t 1992, bel t’atthë tu ghą nayaıtı́ nı K’aıtële kuę ts’ën.
Tony Mercredı nı̨ Trısh Merrıthew hël hųt’ı̨ nı̨.
Chief Patrick Marcel
Patrick Marcel was born in 1938, the son of former Councillor Benjamine Marcel and his wife Marie. He was raised in the traditional bush life in the Wood Buffalo area.
Patrick was the fifth Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, serving for four years (1987 to 1991). In 2012, he became the First Nation’s Chief Negotiator with industry.
Patrick married Regina Cardinal in 1958, who passed away in 1986.
Patrick Marcel yunısı́ 1938 nǫ ́ k’enı̨yá nı̨. Bëta Benjamıne Marcel nı̨ dëne k’odherasé ghı̨lé nı̨ ɂeyı chu Marıe Pat bą ́ nı̨. Yudá ɂëdjëre nę̈nę̈ ts’ęn nǫ ́ nısı ́ neyą nı̨ dënenı̨ k’esı́.
Patrick t’oho dëne k’odhëre ghı̨le sǫlá dëne k’ërı̨yá nı̨ K’aı́ tëlı dënesųłı̨ne xa. Dı̨ghı̨ nę̈nę̈ hots’ën (1987 hots’ı̨ 1991 hots’ën). Ɂeyer hu, 2012 nę̈nę̈ k’e Pat K’aıtël kuę xa nıh xa t’átthë yałtı holı̨ Chıef Negotıator tłes kadanëtá dëne xel.
Patrick bëts’ąne Regına Cardınal nı̨, 1958 hots’ı̨ 1986 hots’ën hohı̨t’ı̨ nı̨ t’oho Regına łeghaı̨dher.
Chief Fred Marcel
Augustan Fridolin (Fred) Marcel was baptized in 1916, a nephew to Alexandre and Jonas Laviolette. He would have spent time with his uncles and learned from them about the treaty, its promises and its violations.
Chief Jonas Laviolette died while Fred was recovering from tuberculosis at the Charles Camsell Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. Fred recalled that people waited for his return in order to choose him as the next Chief, which they did in 1956. He remained Chief until 1984.
Chief Fred was married to Rosa Takaro. His older brother, Benjamine, was a councillor for the Chipewyan Band from 1937 to at least 1946. He was the last hereditary Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Augustın Fredólęn (Fred) Marcel yunısı 1916 bëk’etaıdzël nı̨. Alexadre chu Jonas Lavıolette bázı̨ nı́ . Fredolęn bëɂë kuı hoyenëłtą nı̨ sǫlaghë tsąmba náłya bası́ chu t’ąt’u nahejës bası́ .
T’oho Jonas Lavıolette łeghaı̨dhér Fredólęn Kǫnëdhe Charles Camsell ɂeya kuę thëtı̨ nı́ bëdzıdıdhë ɂëya t’á. ́ Fredólęn hadı́ ɂú dëne yëbá nodorëłɂı̨h nı t’ats’ën nı̨dá hots’en dëne k’ódhere hołé há. 1956 dëne k’odhere holı̨ nı̨. 1984 hots’ën dëne xa ghı̨yı̨ nı̨.
Dëne k’odhere Fredólęn Rosa Takaro gá ghı̨dá nı̨. Bųnaghë Benjamıne dëne k’odherase ghı̨le nı̨ 1937 hots’ı̨ 1946 hots’en. Fredolęn t’anądé dëne k’odhere heredıtary chıef ghı̨lé nı̨ K’aıtël kuę d̨enesųłı̨ne xa.
Chief Jonas Laviolette
Jonas Laviolette was born in 1879 and was Chief Alexandre Laviolette’s younger brother. He was 20 years old when the treaty was signed, and would have witnessed the negotiations.
In 1921, at age 41, Jonas became the second Chipewyan Chief when his brother died. He was Chief for a remarkable 32 years and led the Chipewyan Band through decades of hardship. Like his brother before him, he wrote letters to government authorities on behalf of the First Nation.
Jonas Laviolette’s first wife was Isabelle Aze. After Isabelle’s death, he married Philomene Arcan Hinzel.
Jonas Lavıollete 1879 nǫ ́ k’ënı̨yá nı̨ yunısı. Chıef Alexandre Lavıolette nı̨ bëchëlë nı̨. T’oho tsąmba náłyá k’ádąnë 20 bëghaıyé nı ́ ̨, bënalé nodher nı̨ t’at’ú tsąmba náłyá nı̨.
1921 nę̈nę̈ k’é hu, Jonas dënek’odhëre hólı̨ nı̨ t’oho bųnaghë łeghaı̨dher hu, y̨ ëk’erı̨yá nı̨. 32 nę̈nę̈ hots’ën dëne xa ghı̨yı̨ nı́ t’oho dëne xa horëná huk’é. Hotıé dëne xa ghı̨yı̨ nı bųnaghë k’esı̨ nı̨h ts’en k’oldé ts’en tth’ı holą ɂerıhtł’ıs dı̨tł’ıs nıh dëne xa.
Jonas nah hųt’ı̨ nı, t’atthë bëts’ąne Isabelle Aze nı̨. Isabelle bëdóhółı̨ hu, Phılomene Arcan Hınzel gá nedá nı̨.
Chief Alexandre Laviolette
Alexandre Laviolette was born in 1867 the year of Confederation. Alexandre emerged as a young Chipewyan leader by 1897, when he challenged the authority of the first North-West Mounted Police to enter his country. He wrote: “Who told you to come out here. I would like to know that. Am sure it is not [sic] God. God let this country [be] free, and we like to be free in this Country.”
Two years later, he proved a tough negotiator for Treaty 8, trying to ensure future freedoms and rights, and obtain economic benefits. The treaty commissioners reported that he “... displayed considerable keenness of intellect and much practical sense in pressing the claims of his Band.” At 32, he became the first treaty chief of the Chipewyan Band at Fort Chipewyan.
In the years that followed, he continued to challenge government attempts to restrict the freedoms that he believed had been promised by the Treaty. Notably, in 1912, he deliberately broke the Alberta Game Act to protest the closed season on beavers as a violation of the treaty. He died at age 53 in 1921.
Alexandre Laviolette was married to Delphine Dzendelttsel and was brother-in-law to Adam Sakiskanip, the ancestor of the Chipewyan Adam family.
Alexandre Lavıolette 1867 nǫk’enı̨yá nı̨ t’oho Canada holı̨ nı. Ɂı̨ghá tth’u dëne natthë heyá nı 1897 hu dëne k’ódhere holı̨. Ɂeyer hu, dënenałtsı́ dëne t’atthë dënesųłı̨ne nęnę nı̨dël hu yatı thëłtsı̨ nı, “ɂedłąghë bët’agharë núdel ɂá. K’óshą ́ horësɂı̨h. Nuhëyëdarıyé bëtł’esı́ hıle nësdhën. Nuhëyëdarıyé nuhënę̈nę̈ k’e naraıdé dëne dagharë hılé, nuhëyëdarıyé bët’á kut’á.
ɂëyer tł’ąghë nakë nę̈nę̈ hudher hu tsąmba nályé Treaty 8 ha nųnı̨dher hu, hotıë dëne xa yałtı nı̨, yunadhë dëne nakorëldé chu ɂëłk’ech’a ɂasıe hobası́ tth’ı dëne xa yatı thëłtsı̨ nı̨. Tsąmba k’odhere hadı́ ɂú, “ɂedırı dëne hųyą nı hudı henı̨, hotıé t’á ghą ́ nı̨dhën k’orı́ já dënesųłı̨ne xa. 32 bëghaıyé hu dëne k’ódhëre holı̨ nı̨ 1921 nę̈nę̈ k’é.
Hotıé dëne xa yałtı nı̨ 1912, tsá darętą nı dëne ghą. Alberta nıh ts’ën k’oldé yatı naı̨yes nı̨ sǫlaghë tsąmba yatı nájës hënı̨ nı̨ ɂá. 1921 nę̈nę̈ k’e besdóhółı̨ nı.
Alexandre Lavıolette bëts’ąne Delphıne Dzendelttsel nı̨, Adam Sakıskanıp bëdesı́ nı̨. Adam k’ı ɂëdųdų Ɂądąn dëneųłı̨ne yets’ı̨ɂąné sı.
K'ai Tailé Denesǫłine Trust
The K'ai Tailé Denesǫłine Trust is used to hold ACFN funds that have been received directly from impact benefit agreements.
1. ACFN and the Member Trustees declare that the promotion, enhancement and improvement of the health and well-being of the beneficiaries and the long-term sustainability and protection of the lands, resources and way of life of the beneficiaries in accordance with K'ai Tailé Denesųłiné values are in the objectives of the trust.
2. ACFN and the Trustees declare that the values of this trust are independence, transparency and accountability.
3. The Member Trustees will make decisions in accordance with this deed of trust as informed by Déne values.
Mark Tripe de Rochemark@christinawallacelaw.com
Alternate Chair, Member Trustee
Chair, Member Trustee
Main Contact, Corporate Trustee