What Happened to the Sayisi Dene People?

In 1956, a tragic ordeal nearly destroyed an entire community, and left many deceased and more lives in turmoil.  The Sayisi Dene people of Tadoule Lake, in northern Manitoba, were forcibly uprooted from their homes and way of life by the federal government.  They were relocated to numerous remote locations during a period of several years.  Initially, they were forced to give up their entire lifestyle and move to Churchill, Manitoba. What followed was many years of hardship, more re-location, a loss of Dene language, and eventually a return to the Dene nation homeland.

Sayisi Dene relocation
WILLIAM KOOLAGE PHOTO
Sayisi Dene in Churchill
Camp 10 (1966)

This week, sixty years later, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, will provide an official national apology, to acknowledge the tragic anniversary date of Aug. 17, 1956.  The Dene community will receive $33.6 million in compensation for that act of relocation and the damage to their community that preceded it.

The subject hits close to home for Kensington Communications as we’ve brought light to the situation in our documentary, ALMOST HOME: A SAYISI DENE JOURNEY in 2003.  The 48 minute specialty documentary,made by Robert Lang, Mike Fuller and Sheila Petzold, explores the unfortunate relocation of the Sayisi Dene by taking a closer look at the community today, and hearing first hand through conversation, how the relocation has affected this Lake Manitoba first nation.  The story was actually a re-visit of a film produced in 1972 by five young film students.  We’re proud to say that our documentary gained recognition, winning 2004 Golden Sheaf- Best Documentary, and Best Social/Political Documentary and the Kathleen Shannon Award at the 2004 Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival.

In commemoration of the 60 year anniversary of these tragic events, we’d like people to view the documentary, Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey, and become aware of the important aspects of Canadian History.

The documentary can be viewed for FREE until August 21st, 2016, in the video player below.

 

Reviews of Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey

“I would highly recommend this film in the international fora, to First Nations’ schools, Aboriginal Studies Programs, to First Nations Peoples and indigenous peoples who have struggled with the effect of relocation and mass assimilation. This film accurately tells the Sayisi Dene story and in the end offers hope.”
– Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations”

Purchase a copy of Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey

Read more about the Full Story

 

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