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Manitoba Announces Commitment Of Land For Sayisi Dene First Nation Reserve

WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba government will be entering into a bilateral provincial Relocation Claim Lands Agreement with the Sayisi Dene First Nation, Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke announced at a signing ceremony.

“Our government is focused on real, meaningful reconciliatory action, and strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities,” said Clarke.  “This transfer of land is a significant step forward in building renewed partnerships based on truth, reconciliation, healing and trust to ensure a brighter future for our Indigenous peoples.”.

Clarke signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Manitoba along with Sayisi Dene First Nation Chief Tony Powderhorn.  The bilateral Relocation Claim Lands Agreement will provide 13,054 acres of Crown land at Little Duck Lake to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to address the forced relocation of the Sayisi Dene people from their traditional territory.  The Crown land will be converted to reserve by INAC and is separate from any treaty land entitlements.

“The forced removal of our people from our lands at Little Duck Lake marked a dark time in our history.  The effects of the forced relocation continue to impact our members, many of whom are also survivors of residential schools and the ‘60s Scoop,” said Powderhorn.  “Since the day we were relocated, we have been working hard to regain what we lost.  Every chief of the Sayisi Dene First Nation has used his or her voice to demand a just settlement of our grievances.  Last year we signed an agreement with Canada regarding its role in the relocation.  Canada apologized, as Manitoba did in 2010.  This agreement with Manitoba to transfer over 13,000 acres of land in our traditional territory addresses Manitoba’s role in the relocation by restoring some of what we lost over 60 years ago.  It is a recognition that removing us from our land was wrong.  It is an important step in reconciliation.”

In 1956, the Sayisi Dene First Nation was relocated from its traditional area of Little Duck Lake to the Churchill area.  In 1967, the community relocated south of Churchill to Dene Village, and again in 1981 when a reserve was established at Tadoule Lake.

Both provincial and federal governments have apologized for their role in the forced relocation of the Sayisi Dene people to the Churchill area in 1956.  Manitoba officially apologized to the Sayisi Dene in Churchill on Aug. 3, 2010, and Canada officially apologized at a ceremony in Winnipeg on Aug. 16, 2016.

Clarke and the Sayisi Dene First Nation will celebrate the signing of the Relocation Claim Lands Agreement with the community in Tadoule Lake at a later date.

-Manitoba Government

Spencer Fernando is a columnist and reporter for MyToba News. You can read more of Spencer’s writing at his website SpencerFernando.com
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