Canada Advances Reconciliation with Historic Apology for Relocation of Sayisi Dene

News Release

August 16, 2016 – Tadoule Lake, MB – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

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 Sayisi Dene Relocation Claim 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.

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Additional links


Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Sayisi Dene First Nation
Chief Ernest Bussidor: 204-684-2022
Bernice Thorassie: 204-684-2266

Follow us on Twitter: @GCIndigenous

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