On Tuesday August 16, 2016, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs,
Carolyn Bennett, delivered an emotional apology to the Sayisi Dene
for their forced and tragic relocation in 1956.
A people rich in traditional culture, the Sayisi Dene originally
resided in northern Manitoba near the HBC Little Duck Lake trading
post, 200 kilometers inland of Hudson Bay. Their traditional
territory was abundant in natural resources, including the caribou
on which they depended for survival. For centuries, the Sayisi Dene
people lived a traditional and semi-nomadic lifestyle, living along
the treelines while following the caribou. As the caribou
populations declined in the 1950s, the Government of Canada blamed
the Sayisi Dene people and their hunting practices. In response, in
1956, the Federal government forcibly relocated the community east
to small piece of land near Churchill, MB on the shores of Hudson
Bay. Resources were scarce and the Sayisi Dene were unable to
practice their traditional subsistence lifestyle.
The Sayisi Dene were promised food, shelter, and access to
paying jobs; these promises were broken by the Federal government.
During their time in Dene Village, many Sayisi Dene people lived in
squalor and died tragically: freezing or starving to death, burning
in house fires, or victims of violent crime. Those who survived
were jobless, weak, and many turned to substance abuse to cope.
Extreme physical and sexual violence were commonplace. By the time
of their return to their traditional territory in 1973, 117 of the
250 people who were originally relocated had died.
In recent years, the Government of Canada entered into
negotiations for a monetary settlement to compensate the Sayisi
Dene people for what Canada's Minister of Indigenous and
Northern Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett, called a "tragic
and fatal decision" on the part of the government. Now, 60
years later, the Government of Canada delivered an emotional,
formal apology to the Sayisi Dene people; a speech during which the
Minister of Indigenous Affairs visibly broke down. The formal
apology was delivered in speeches in both Tadoule Lake and Dene
Village, which announced the settlement of $33 million for the
Sayisi Dene people. Just over $5.7 million will be distributed
among the survivors of Dene Village with the remainder of the
settlement funds being placed in trust for the betterment of the
community and its members. The trust will be managed by trustees
who have said that it is an investment in their community's
future that will, among other things, help to subsidize the high
cost of healthy foods in the north, to establish reading camps for
children, and to generate economic development and growth by
funding local, small businesses.
The resilient and proud Sayisi Dene people have made great
strides to recover from this tragic period in their history,
strengthening their culture and community. Gowling WLG is honoured
to have played a small role in helping to structure their trust,
and wishes the Sayisi Dene people success in this next chapter of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The prospect of an internal investigation raises many thorny issues. This presentation will canvass some of the potential triggering events, and discuss how to structure an investigation, retain forensic assistance and manage the inevitable ethical issues that will arise.
From the boardroom to the shop floor, effective organizations recognize the value of having a diverse workplace. This presentation will explore effective strategies to promote diversity, defeat bias and encourage a broader community outlook.
Staying local but going global presents its challenges. Gowling WLG lawyers offer an international roundtable on doing business in the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. This three-hour session will videoconference in lawyers from around the world to discuss business and intellectual property hurdles.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).