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

Peter Hope, a longtime radio broadcaster remembered for his passion of Dene Zhatie, his sense of humour, and his love of music, passed away early Friday morning at 71-years-old.

The longtime host of Dehcho Dene kept speakers of Dene Zhatie informed with news from across the world

Peter Hope staff photo from 2018. Hope, a veteran broadcaster with the CBC, is being remembered for keeping the Dene Zhatie speakers informed on all subjects. (CBC)

Peter Hope, a longtime radio broadcaster remembered for his passion of Dene Zhatie, his sense of humour, 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 dealing with cancer, she takes some solace in the fact 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 language Dene Zhatie (South Slavey). He worked as a broadcaster with the CBC for 27 years and before that worked for CKLB Radio. He had just retired last year.   

A young Peter Hope. After growing up listening to music on the radio, he himself first got behind a mic at CKLB-FM in Yellowknife. (CBC)

"For me, language is very special. I'm fortunate that it didn't take a struggle to relearn it," he said in a past broadcast. 

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

English came into his life later, through church and school, but Hope never lost his love for his first language — or his curiosity to learn more about it. 

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

The Dene Peter Newman

Nick Sibbeston is a former N.W.T. premier, senator and a longtime friend of Hope's.

"Peter had a very nice voice," Sibbeston told CBC's the Weekender host Marc Winkler. 

"He was a Peter Newman of the Dene language, he had a nice, smooth, congenial type of talk." 

Hope also understood the subjects he discussed and explained them in a way that allowed listeners to understand. Sibbeston said when there were no Dene words for an English term, Hope wouldn't simply say the word in English, he would use other Dene words to explain it. 

"I would say many people who didn't understand English would depend on Peter for the news," Sibbeston said.   

"He would break it down so the Dene people could understand." 

This made him more than just an enjoyable, and funny, radio personality to listen to. 

"He was that vital to people that didn't understand English," Sibbeston said. 

A 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 had contributed vastly to the Dene language," he said. 

Peter Hope, right, received the Senate Sesquicentennial Medal for his work with the language. Former N.W.T. senator Nick Sibbeston, left, awarded it to him in 2017. (CBC)

A love of laughter

Paul Andrew is another former longtime broadcaster, former chief of Tulita and friend of Hope's. He said one well-known quality of his friend was his great sense of humour. 

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

Andrew said Hope also had a love of music, he was a longtime guitar player, and was a big hockey fan.

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

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

"I always thought that would've been so funny and so comical," he said. 

"Essentially we had to come up with new names for slap shot, using a stick, equipment, all these things. You can have so much fun with just doing that." 

Andrew said Hope always respected his elders, something that was reflected when he spoke the language in the show.

Peter Hope at the 2004 Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alta. (CBC)

A positive attitude

Jim Antoine is the former premier, Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation chief and friend of Hope's. 

"He spoke very well about everything. He was very well loved and people loved hearing him," he said. 

Antoine said Hope had a positive attitude that always came across in his show and in-person. 

"Every time I talk to him, it was on a positive note. He never spoke negatively about anybody or anything," he said.

Hope's funeral will be on Sept. 1, a visitation will occur at McKenna Funeral Home in Yellowknife on Aug. 31 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Peter Hope in CBC Yellowknife's CD library looking for an album by Hay River band, Pressure Ridge. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)


  • An earlier version of this article misspelled Peter Newman's last name. It has been updated.
    Aug 27, 2022 4:03 PM CT

With files from Marc Winkler