Canada Advances Reconciliation with Historic Apology for Relocation of Sayisi Dene

TADOULE LAKE, MB, Aug. 16, 2016 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is committed to the vital work of reconciliation by partnering with First Nations to renew relationships for the benefit of all Canadians.

Today, on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett apologized for the relocation of the Sayisi Dene from Little Duck Lake to North Knife River and Churchill in the 1950s and 1960s and for the extreme pain, hardship, suffering and losses they experienced as a result of the relocation.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the original relocation. The apology was made to community members at a special ceremony held today both at Tadoule Lake and Churchill. The apology flows from a settlement concluded in partnership with the Sayisi Dene First Nation and is a key step forward on a path of renewal, healing and reconciliation.

"The Government of Canada apologizes for having relocated the Sayisi Dene people and recognizes that this relocation had a catastrophic impact on the Sayisi Dene community. We deeply regret the wrongs of the past and the heartbreaking legacy of shattered lives that continues to affect members to this day. Today we pay tribute to the victims and survivors of the relocation, as well as future generations, as we now take our first steps together on a path of renewal and healing."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

"The Sayisi Dene First Nation are a resilient and patient people. Against all odds we have survived the years our people lived in Camp 10 and Dene Village in Churchill. We are resilient enough to reacquire our traditions, language and culture and patient enough to wait 60 years to hear the Government of Canada admit their wrongs. Each generation has its task, and now sixty years after the Relocation, we the survivors and our children will begin to plan and build a positive future for our First Nation. You can hear the drum again - loud and proud."

Chief Ernest Bussidor
Sayisi Dene First Nation                                                        

Quick Facts

  • The settlement was approved by First Nation members in March 2016 and signed by Canada in July 2016.
  • Sayisi Dene members were relocated from Little Duck Lake to North Knife River in 1956 and later to Churchill in northern Manitoba, where they lived in various camps in deplorable conditions.
  • While living in and around Churchill, Sayisi Dene community members suffered harm, death and other losses, and as a result, the First Nation and its members continue to suffer today.
  • Members later moved back to their traditional lands at Tadoule Lake in 1973.


Related Products
Sayisi Dene Relocation Claim 

Federal Apology to the Sayisi Dene  

Additional Links
About Sayisi Dene

Canadian Museum for Human Rights: Sayisi Dene Relocation

Province of Manitoba: Apology to Sayisi Dene


SOURCE Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

For further information: media may contact: Sabrina Williams, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, 819-997-0002; Media Relations, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-953-1160; Sayisi Dene First Nation, Chief Ernest Bussidor: 204-684-2022, Bernice Thorassie: 204-684-2266; Stay Connected, Follow us on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr. You can subscribe to receive our news releases and speeches via RSS feeds or e-mail. For more information or to subscribe, visit

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