Live through this: How the Sayisi Dene survive

Looking for a compelling Canadian documentary to watch? We suggest Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey that first aired on CBC’s The Nature of Things.

Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey

Summer is here and with it comes holidays, fireworks and flags. It’s a time of year when many Canadians and Americans show off their patriotism – people are proud of where they live and want to celebrate. But there are bands of people who share the same land that have a very complicated relationship with their country. They want to celebrate their home and cultural identity too but ‘home’ has a whole new meaning when your family was forced to leave your home and traditions behind.

One such group is the Sayisi Dene people of Tadoule Lake in northern Manitoba. They are a people with a nomadic history of following and hunting the Caribou. In 1956, the federal government forced them to give up their ways and move to Churchill, Manitoba. What followed was many years of hardship, more re-location, and eventually a return to their homeland.

If you are looking for a compelling Canadian documentary to watch this month, we’d like to suggest Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey.

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“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

A critical component of being Canadian is acknowledging the government’s mistakes with Canada’s original inhabitants. It’s a relationship that requires continuous work and trust-building as seen currently with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Reconciliation has immediate relevancy for many Aboriginal peoples and these documented stories told by various Sayisi Dene people, help us understand how deeply people were affected by the actions of the Canadian government.

Almost Home: A Sayisi Dene Journey was released in 2003 and is available to purchase and stream for $2. The film won Best Social/Political Documentary and the Kathleen Shannon award at the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival in 2004.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH


About the documentary
In 1972, five young film students made a documentary about the Sayisi Dene, an aboriginal band in Northern Manitoba that had been forcibly relocated from their ancestral home. In 2003, we revisited these people as they struggle to put their tragic past behind them and keep their values and traditions in balance with the realities of the 21st century. This one-hour documentary combines footage from 1972 with contemporary footage and intimate interviews with members of the community.