Pikangikum First Nation

Coordinates: 51°48′N 94°00′W / 51.800°N 94.000°W / 51.800; -94.000
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Pikangikum 14
Pikangikum Indian Reserve No. 14
Pikangikum 14 is located in Ontario
Pikangikum 14
Pikangikum 14
Coordinates: 51°48′N 94°00′W / 51.800°N 94.000°W / 51.800; -94.000
Country Canada
Province Ontario
First NationPikangikum
 • ChiefShirley Lynne Keeper
 • Deputy ChiefCorry Turtle
 • Land8.59 km2 (3.32 sq mi)
335 m (1,099 ft)
 • Total2,100 (2,011 census) 4,500 (2,019 reported)
 • Density111.3/km2 (288/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code807

The Pikangikum First Nation (/pɪˈkænɪkəm/, Ojibwe: Bigaanjigamiing, unpointed ᐱᑲᐣᒋᑲᒥᐠ,,pointed ᐱᑳᐣᒋᑲᒦᐣᐠ) is an Ojibwe First Nation[3] located on the 1,808-hectare (4,470-acre) Pikangikum 14 Reserve,[4] in Unorganized Kenora District in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.[5] The main centre is the community of Pikangikum,[6] on Pikangikum Lake on the Berens River, part of the Hudson Bay drainage system; it is approximately 100 kilometres (60 mi) north of the town of Red Lake.

The community has a registered population as of September 2011 of 2,443, of whom 2,334 live on the reserve.[7]


A 2005 Wawatay Native Communications Society survey found that the residents of Pikangikum have one of the highest rates of original language retention of any First Nation in Northern Ontario. The language is Ojibwe, the major dialect of Anishinaabe peoples (see Berens River Ojibwe language).

In 2000, the First Nation was reported to have the highest suicide rate in the world.[8] A report by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario released June 1, 2011 regarding 16 deaths by suicide between 2006 and 2008 on the reserve showed a pattern of inhalant abuse by young people aggravated by poor educational, health, child welfare, and other services.[9]


The community has the following doodem (clans):

  • Caribou (Adik)
  • Sturgeon (Name)
  • Pelican (Zhashagi)
  • Skunk (Zhigaag)


The Pikangikum First Nation is governed by a council elected via a custom electoral system consisting of a chief, deputy chief and nine councillors. The current chief is Shirley Lynne Keeper, Pikangikum First Nation is a member of Treaty 5 (through the initial signing on 20 September 1875 at Berens River, Manitoba) and the Independent First Nations Alliance.


The community is accessible primarily by airplane at the Pikangikum Airport, although it is also served by Pikangikum Water Aerodrome. It has winter road access north to Poplar Hill First Nation and south to Red Lake and Ontario Highway 125.


The community's only school burned down in 2007, with all students learning in portables until the opening of Eenchokay Birchstick School in 2016.[10][11]


Unemployment rates are estimated to be around 90% in Pikangikum.[12][13] Traditional subsistence economies are not factored into the employment rate calculation.

In November 2020, Pikangikum became the first community in Canada to gain access to the beta version of the Starlink satellite internet constellation, providing limited high-speed Internet access to the community for the first time.[14][15]

Whitefeather Forest Initiative[edit]

Since 1996, Pikangikum First Nation has been pursuing its Whitefeather Forest Initiative (Ojibwe: pointed: ᐚᐱᒦᑿᓐ ᓅᐦᐱᒫᐦᑲᒥᒃ ᒫᒋᐦᑖᐏᓐ; unpointed: ᐘᐱᒥᑿᓐ ᓄᐱᒪᑲᒥᒃ ᒪᒋᑕᐏᓐ; Waabimiigwan Noopimaakamig Maajitaawin), a land-based community economic development renewal and resource stewardship initiative. Through this Initiative the First Nation is working with the Government of Ontario to manage the Whitefeather Forest, 12,200 square kilometres (4,700 sq mi) of Crown land in the Pikangikum customary land-use area. In 2006 the First Nation completed their land use strategy named Keeping the Land,[16] which was approved by the Province through the Ministry of Natural Resources. The land use strategy provides guidance for the future management of proposed new land-use activities, such as commercial forestry, protected areas and eco-cultural tourism. Keeping the Land provides a vision for the management of proposed new land uses rooted in the indigenous knowledge and customary stewardship traditions of Pikangikum people. Keeping the Land is made up of three key components (WFMC 2006):

  1. Stewardship Strategy — an obligation to respect all living beings
  2. Customary Activities — all those physical, mental and spiritual states of well-being that are needed for survival on the land.
  3. Economic Development — new livelihood practices adapted to customary stewardship approach to provide for the survival of Pikangikum people in a contemporary cultural context.


Hockey on adjacent Lake Pikangikum is a favourite pastime of the youth.[12]

Health concerns[edit]

Youth suicide[edit]

Over the past two decades, Pikangikum First Nation has experienced extraordinarily high youth suicide rates;[17] recent averages for 1992 to 2000 exceed 200 per 100,000, possibly the highest rate of suicide of any community in the world.[9] In 2000, 470 per 100,000 deaths were attributed to suicide.[18][19] As of 2011 the situation had not changed.[12] In the summer of 2008, eight people between the ages of 8 and 18 died by suicide.[19] Again, in mid-year 2010, five people between the ages of 16 and 26 had already taken their lives prompting the former chief of the community to issue a cry for assistance.[20] In total, there have been 74 documented cases of suicide from 1990 to 2007, many of whom were women and girls who habitually huff gasoline.[12][19][21] The perpetual cycle of grief in Pikangikum makes this situation unique.[22] Due to influence of Elders in the community, who strongly voice their religious opposition to burying Aboriginal youth who have died by suicide in cemeteries, families of youth who have taken their own lives are forced to bury their family members in their own front yards.[9] Burial in the front yard is an Ojibwa tradition.[12] Community guided increases and enhancements in cultural programming such alongside an increased reserve land-base (allowing for greater physical freedom and the expansion of subsistence economies) correlate to a reduction in suicide rate. The transference of educational models from institutional to cultural also results in a reduction of the suicide rate. Increased awareness of the importance and value of Indigenous cultural practices and knowledge across non-native populations also leads to a reduction in the suicide rate.[23]

Water advisories[edit]

Pikangikum was under boil-water advisory for more than 10 years.[24] The supply of clean running water was negatively affected by inadequate power supply by the community's diesel power generator.


  1. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census". 2016 Census. Statistics Canada. 2017-04-14. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  2. ^ "Pikangikum 14 census profile". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Pikangikum - First Nation number 208". Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Government of Canada. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  4. ^ "Pikangikum 14 - Reserve number 06320". Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Government of Canada. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  5. ^ "Pikangikum 14". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  6. ^ "Pikangikum". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  7. ^ "Pikangikum - Registered Population". Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Government of Canada. September 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  8. ^ Elliott, Louise (2000-11-27). "Ontario native suicide rate one of highest in world, expert says". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  9. ^ a b c Lauwers, Bert (2011-06-01). "The Office of the Chief Coroner's Death Review of the Youth Suicides at the Pikangikum First Nation, 2006 – 2008". Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. Archived from the original on 2012-09-30. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  10. ^ Lambert, Steve (January 19, 2018). "Trudeau Promises To Help First Nation Reserve With Housing Shortage". The Huffington Post. The prime minister then visited Eenchokay Birchstick School, which opened about 18 months ago after the former school burned down.
  11. ^ Porter, Jody (October 14, 2016). "New school opens in Pikangikum First Nation nearly a decade after old one burned down". CBC News. The community's previous school burned down in 2007. Since then, the approximately 900 school-aged children in Pikangikum were attending classes in a series of portables.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Canada, home to the suicide capital of the world" article by Martin Patriquin in Maclean’s Magazine, March 30, 2012
  13. ^ "Pikangikum Elders Work for Local Knowledge, Local Training for Local Forestry Jobs" (PDF). Grant Recipients - Vignette. Ontario Trillium Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  14. ^ "Pikangikum First Nation gets broadband from SpaceX Starlink | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  15. ^ Duffy, Kate. "How SpaceX teamed up with a small Canadian IT company to bring its Starlink internet service to an indigenous community". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  16. ^ "Our Land Use Strategy". Whitefeather Forest Management Corp. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
  17. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2019-06-28). "Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016): Findings from the 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC)". www150.statcan.gc.ca. Retrieved 2021-06-10.
  18. ^ "Ontario native suicide rate one of highest in world, expert says" article by Louise Elliott, Canadian Press, November 27, 2000
  19. ^ a b c Finlay, J., Hardy, M., Morris, D., & Nagy, A. (2009). "Mamow ki-ken-da-ma-win: A partnership approach to child, youth, family and community well being", International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8, 245-257. doi: 10.1007/s11469-009-9263-8
  20. ^ CBC News, 2011
  21. ^ "Gas sniffer". Archived from the original on 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  22. ^ NSPC, 2009
  23. ^ "National Aboriginal History Organization (NAHO)".
  24. ^ "Ottawa to spend $60M connecting Pikangikum First Nation to power grid". The Canadian Press. August 17, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2018.

External links[edit]