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Discussion Groups: Manitoba & Canada News & Events


Topic: A Story of Manitoban Genocide
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Loki

3/4/2009 7:35:12 PM
Member since:
Nov 2008
Total posts:390
A Story of Manitoban Genocide

In a previous post someone mentioned there was no racism in Canada (an absurd idea) but it got me to remember a little known piece of Manitoban History.  
 
In the mid 1950's biologists determined that the Duck Lake population of the Sayisi Dene were responsible for the decimation of the Caribou population in the area (A laughable conclusion). The Canadian government, only too happy to hear this, quickly transported the entire tribe from Duck Lake to Churchill with promises of full accommodation. Upon their arrival, the Sayisi Dene were given some lumber and tools and told to make camp for the winter. Being in a totally alien environment with little knowledge of hour to survive on the tundra (they were a Boreal Forest tribe) many fell into despair. Coupled with that, they were also at the rock bottom of the segregation list. The aboriginals which traditionally occupied the Churchill area were the Cree, a totally different and also arch-enemy tribe of the Dene. So the racial segregation picking order went as follows:  
English, French, Cree, Inuit, Sayisi Dene.  
 
After two other temporary camps, the Dene were finally relocated to some real homes on the far outskirts of Town proper in an area called Goose Creek. By this time alcohol had taken its toll on the tribe and the majority of the adults were well in its grasp. Also at this time, the worst of the racial segregation and degradation was occurring. It was a regular sight to see women and children scavenging at the local dump for food and should a collision between them and a vehicle occur, they were deemed unimportant and it was acceptable to continue driving. They were only Dene you see.  
 
All this continued for while until one night, when most of the adults were drinking and the children were left at home, a fire broke out. In a few hours almost an entire generation of children perished as the blaze spread and the entire village was burnt to the ground. You can visit there today and still see the burnt concrete foundations along with a plaque at the entrance of the site acknowledging the near Genocide of a people.  
 
In a few short years a thriving and healthy tribe of self-sustaining individuals were transformed into one of the many tragedies of our governments indifferent and inhumane mismanagement of its aboriginal people.

 
 
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kingreader

3/4/2009 8:07:01 PM
Member since:
Nov 2007
Total posts:392
Nightspirits by Illa Bussidor...

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the relocation of the Sayisi Dene, than read the book I mentioned above.  
 
It's narrated by the actual Sayisi Dene who experiencecd this.  
 
Another interesting point is that this case isn't the only case. What happened to these people happened to all the different native groups in Manitoba. The only reason the case of the Sayisi Dene is well documented is that they signed the treaty quite late.  
 
It's a very heart-wrenching and eye-opening book. It helped me understand more about my people and why we are what we are.

NocturnalHouse

3/4/2009 9:20:58 PM
Member since:
Sep 2008
Total posts:8
totally interested in the book now...

i read a bit online about the Sayisi Dene and really want to read the book now  
 
i don't comprehend how the gov't came to the conclusion that this nomadic tribe of around 300 people could be responsible for the decline of Caribou in a 12-13 year period (they claim that the herd numbers dwindled by about 400,000 in the 40's and 50's!!!)  
 
hopefully some small amount of justice can be served and the land claim settlement will work in the Sayisi Dene favor

Loki

3/5/2009 10:10:39 AM
Member since:
Nov 2008
Total posts:390
Night Spirits

Night Spirits is a good book. I saw a copy of it at George Stranges Bookmart the other day.

clark Griwold

3/5/2009 10:17:11 AM
Member since:
Aug 2007
Total posts:8
Resilience

I once met a decendent of the Dene tribe, she was/is one of the strongest women i have ever met.


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