Relocation and loss of homeland, the story of the Sayisi Dene of northern Manitoba

Thumbnail Image
Petch, Virginia Phyllis.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
In 1956, the Sayisi Dene residing at Little Duck Lake in northern Manitoba were relocated to Churchill. The move nearly destroyed the cultural integrity of this small band of people who were still practicing a seasonal round comparable to that of their pre-European-contact ancestors. An ethnohistorical approach was used to document the story of the relocation. The dissertation is divided into two sections. The first provides an explanation of the theoretical principles and methodologies used. As well, a general understanding of the importance of the Qaminurjak caribou population to the survival of the people is presented. Section II describes the sequence of events which led to the relocation of the Sayisi Dene from Little Duck Lake to Churchill and discusses the effects of the relocation in terms of the cumulative effects of imposed change. In 1973, the Sayisi Dene voluntarily left Churchill in order to flee the social despair caused by the relocation. Today they reside at Tadoule Lake, Manitoba and struggle to repair the damage wrought by the federal government and Indian Affairs some 40 years ago. The relocation of the Sayisi Dene is viewed as one of the most grievous errors committed by the federal government. It stripped the Sayisi Dene of a productive life and almost destroyed the very fabric of their existence.