Opaskwayak Cree Nation
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The Opaskwayak Cree Nation is a First Nations band government in Manitoba, Canada. The First Nation has territory near The Pas, Manitoba, along the Saskatchewan River. The First Nation hosts the Opaskwayak Indian Days annually each August. The OCN Blizzard, a Manitoba Junior Hockey League team, is based on the reserve and plays out of the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre.
The current townsite of Opaskwayak reserve parcel 21E was a historical gathering place where people travelled to for spiritual healing. The area Cree would meet here every summer to fish, harvest, and cultivate the land. Also during this time it was an opportunity for creating social ties and practicing the ceremonial way of life known as the Metewiwin or Grand Medicine Society. The language of the Opaskwayak people is from the Swampy Cree “N” dialect. There were a number of local bands who shared the same defined territory which in turn, composed of a number of interrelated families who came together periodically through the year for various social, cultural activities and ceremonies. The Nation has made many developments, including the Joe. A. Ross, Oscar Lathlin Collegiate, and a Community Plex for the events such as: bingos, socials and community events, etc. The local hotel known as Kikiwak Inn was built and completed in July 1996. The Otineka Shopping Mall was built in the early 1970s and opened in the 1975 which has various retail outlets. The McGillivary Care Home was constructed in 1982 for community Elders. The community of Opaskwayak Cree Nation has two churches on the reserve. The Church of Redeemer is situated in Big Eddy, and the Church of Messiah is situated in the townsite area. Both of these churches have been recently constructed to replace the old churches. According to oral traditions Cree people have occupied the landscape of north-central Manitoba since a time before memory; archaeology supports this. The earliest archeological evidence of the people occupying the area has been carbon dated 2,600-4,000 years ago. OCN is accessible by rail, road, water, and air travel.
The Band is governed by the Chief and eight Councilors, who are elected according to the Indian Act for a three-year term. The reserve consists of 21 parcels of land varying in size from 10 to 5200 acres and totaling about 40,000 acres. The most populated settlements are located in and around the Town of The Pas. Most of the reserve's borders are with the Rural Municipality of Kelsey and the Town of The Pas. The balance is with the unorganized portion of Census Division No. 21.