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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Dene Village (Churchill River Road, Churchill)

A village about two miles southeast of Churchill was established by the Department of Indian Affairs for the Fort Churchill Indian Band, known today as the Sayisi Dene First Nation. Forced to relocate to Churchill in 1956, they lived in squalor at a site near the present-day cemetery. In 1966, they were moved to this site into bungalows built by the federal government. The transition from nomadic, caribou-hunting culture to non-migratory urban life was unsuccessful and numerous people died. Many of the houses were destroyed by fire and most of the people relocated to Tadoule Lake by 1973. Within a few years, the village was completely abandoned. The concrete foundations for numerous buildings remain at a site. A commemorative monument was erected in October 1999.

Former Dene Village

Former Dene Village (1984)
Source: Maria Zbigniewicz

Former residence in the Dene Village

Former residence in the Dene Village (1984)
Source: Maria Zbigniewicz

Aerial view of the former Dene Village

Aerial view of the former Dene Village (July 2018)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Concrete building foundation at the former Dene Village

Concrete building foundation at the former Dene Village (July 2018)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Commemorative monument at the former Dene Village

Commemorative monument at the former Dene Village (July 2018)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Location (lat/long): N58.73345, W94.11170
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Akudlik (Churchill River Road, Churchill)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Abandoned Manitoba

Sources:

“Chipewyan Indian on the move again,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 May 1973, page 106.

Relocation and loss of homeland: The story of the Sayisi Dene of northern Manitoba by Virginia Phyllis Petch, PhD dissertation, University of Manitoba, June 1998.

Financial support for research reported on this page was provided by Manitoba Heritage Grant 18F-H49829.

We thank Maria Zbigniewicz for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 31 October 2019

Historic Sites of Manitoba

This is a collection of historic sites in Manitoba compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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Please note that inclusion in this collection does not mean that a particular site has special status or protection. Some sites are on private property and permission must be secured from the owner prior to visiting.

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