Veteran broadcaster Peter Hope is remembered for his love of language, laughter and music

Peter Hope, a longtime broadcaster known for his passion for Dene Zhatie, his sense of humor and his love of music, died early Friday morning.

Hope’s partner Wendy Feng confirmed his death. Feng said Hope was kind and gentle. But after facing cancer, she finds some comfort in the fact that he is no longer in pain. He was 71 years old.

Hope hosted Dehcho Dene on CBC Radio, where he shared his love of the Dene Zhatie (South Slavey) language. He worked as a CBC broadcaster for 27 years and before that he worked for CKLB Radio. He had just retired last year.

A young Peter Hope. After growing up listening to music on the radio, he first settled behind a microphone at CKLB-FM in Yellowknife. (Radio Canada)

« For me, the language is very special. I’m lucky that it didn’t have to be struggled to relearn it, » he said on a past show.

Hope grew up in Fort Simpson (Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation) where he spoke Dene Zhatie with his family.

English came into her life later, through church and school, but Hope never lost her love for her mother tongue – or her curiosity to learn more about it.

young peter hope
Peter Hope, about six years old, around the time his grandmother started taking him to church. (Submitted by Peter Hope)

Dene Peter Newman

Nick Sibbeston is a former Premier of the Northwest Territories, Senator and longtime friend of Hope.

« Peter had a really nice voice, » Sibbeston told CBC. the weekend host Marc Winkler.

« He was a Dene-speaking Peter Newman, he had a pleasant, fluent and sympathetic speech. »

Hope also understood the topics he was talking about and explained them in a way that allowed listeners to understand. Sibbeston said that when there were no Dene words for an English term, Hope didn’t just say the word in English, he used other Dene words to explain it.

« I would say a lot of people who didn’t understand English would depend on Peter for news, » Sibbeston said.

“He was breaking it down so the Dene could understand.

It made him more than just an enjoyable and fun-to-listen-to radio personality.

« He was so vital to people who didn’t understand English, » Sibbeston said.

One happy memory Sibbeston has of Hope was when he had the chance to present his friend with a Senate sesquicentennial medal in 2017.

« I chose Peter because he has contributed so much to the Dene language, » he said.

peter hope and nick sibbeston
Peter Hope, right, received the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal for his work on language. Former Northwest Territories senator Nick Sibbeston, left, awarded him the award in 2017. (Radio Canada)

A love of laughter

Paul Andrew is another longtime former broadcaster, former chef of Tulita and friend of Hope. He said a well-known quality of his friend was his great sense of humor.

« We always talk to each other in Slavey and try to make each other laugh, » he said.

Andrew said Hope also had a love for music, was a lifelong guitarist and was a huge hockey fan.

peter hope may 2019
Peter Hope was the host of the CBC radio show Dehcho Dene. (Alyssa Mosher/CBC)

Andrew said one of his dreams was for the two to call a hockey game in the language.

« I always thought it would have been so funny and comedic, » he said.

« Essentially we had to come up with new names for slapshot, using a stick, equipment, all those things. You can have so much fun just doing that. »

Andrew said Hope always respected his elders, which was reflected when he spoke the language on the show.

peter hope arctic winter games
Peter Hope at the 2004 Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alberta. (Radio Canada)

A positive attitude

Jim Antoine is the former Premier, Chief of the Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation and friend of Hope.

« He spoke very well about everything. He was very well liked and people liked to hear him, » he said.

Antoine said Hope had a positive attitude that always showed on his show and in person.

« Every time I spoke to him it was on a positive note. He never spoke negatively about anyone or anything, » he said.

Hope’s funeral will be on September 1, a visitation will be held at McKenna Funeral Home in Yellowknife on August 31 from 3-5 p.m.

peter hope yellowknife cd library
Peter Hope in CBC Yellowknife’s CD library looking for an album by Hay River band Pressure Ridge. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)


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