Sagkeeng First Nation

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The Sagkeeng 1ST. Nation is an Anishinaabe First Nation that holds territory upon Turtle Island in the southern part of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 120 kilometers north of the city of Winnipeg ("Win-nipi" is a Cree word meaning "murky waters").

Sagkeeng, which was once called Fort Alexander, has a total population of 7,637 registered band members, with 4,285 members living off reserve. The name "Sagkeeng" is derived from the Ojibwe language Zaagiing, meaning "at the outlet". The Reserve is located on both North and South shores "at the outlet" of the Winnipeg River. It is adjacent to the northern border of the Rural Municipality of Alexander, which also borders the Town of Power view-Pine Falls.

Sagkeeng’s traditional territory includes land within Treaty #1 and lands north and east of the Winnipeg River. The territory of Sagkeeng originally was to have commenced one mile upstream from the Fort Alexander trading post formerly occupied by the Hudson’s Bay Company. INAC files indicate the Chief and Council requested the boundaries to be moved to its present location.


The Sagkeeng Ojibway people are direct descendants of the Anishinaabe tribes that migrated in the 1700s west from a longtime settlement in the present-day Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario area. The fore-fathers of the Sagkeeng were part of the ancient copper culture; copper points and artifacts have been found around the Fort Alexander fishing, hunting, and trading grounds. The copper came from Lake Superior copper mines that are thousands of years old.

The Anishinasbe peoples began trading with Europeans (first French colonists) hundreds of years ago in this area. In 1732 La Vérendrye built a fur trading post, "Fort Maurepas", on the north side of the Winnipeg River, north of present-day Selkirk, Manitoba. Later in 1792, the North West Company built a post on the south side of the River near Lake Winnipeg; it was sometimes called Fort Bas de la Rivière. In 1807, the Hudson Bay Company built Fort Alexander to further facilitate trade with the natives in the area. The Fort was named after Alexander McKay, a partner in the North West Company, and was built after the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company merged.

The modern Winnipeg city developed at the site of an ancient Native trading place at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Indigenous peoples had met here for millennia.

Contemporary life[edit]

The nation has a dance group Sagkeeng's Finest, who won the 2012 first and only season of Canada's Got Talent. The group included Vincent O’Laney, 17, and brothers Dallas Courchene, 16, and Brandon Courchene, 18. They won over a total of 244 other acts. The trio started with traditional jigging, a First Nations tradition, then fused more modern dance styles, such as tap dancing, into their act. Because of this new style of dancing, the people of Canada took to their phones and voted "Sagkeeng's Finest" as winners of the $100,000 first prize. They also won a $105,000 Nissan GT-R sports car, an opportunity to perform during City TV's New Year's Eve special, and the possibility of performing at a venue in Las Vegas.

Rogers Media’s Scott Moore said the victory for Sagkeeng’s Finest showed Canadian support for an underdog. “It shows the diversity and the acceptance of Canada,” he insisted.[1][2][3]


Kakakepenaise (Gekeki-Binesi, "Hawk-bird", a.k.a. William Mann I) signed Treaty 1 in 1871 on behalf of the Sagkeeng people.[4] Although Sagkeeng is a Treaty 1 nation, it is a member of the Grand Council of Treaty 3 (GCT3), which means it belongs to three treaty territories. These encompass a geographical area of 55,000 square miles. The Northern Territory of Turtle Island, the Southern Plains territory, and the Eastern Turtle Island territory treaty boundaries converge at the Sagkeeng Territory.

The (GCT3) is a political organization representing 23 First Nation communities across Treaty 3 areas of northern Ontario and southeastern Manitoba, Canada. Along with the Southern Plains, they represent an additional 5 First Nations in specific regards to their Treaty rights. Sagkeeng holds its annual Treaty Days in the last week of July of every year. The events are open to the public: the 4-5 days of events nclude a community parade, various children's events, a pow wow, fireworks, and various community events.

Community Elders speak about "five original families" who were represented at the signing of the treaty. Other families were mixed-blood Metis (French and Anishinabe) who became part of the Treaty No. 3, which was signed two years later on October 3, 1873. For several decades, the competition of the Catholic and Anglican churches caused division between the Métis families, who tended to be French-speaking and Catholic, and the original Treaty families, who were Anglican.

The French Oblates of Mary Immaculate ran a residential school for Indigenous children. As was the practice at the time, the teachers tried to force the students to speak English and prohibited them from practicing their own culture. They created a legacy of pain and suffering among the Anishinabe people.[5]

In the 21st century, the churches have less influence in the community, and the former rivalries between the full-blooded and mixed-blooded families have mostly been forgotten. The community has embraced their Anishinaabe heritage. In 2005 the Canadian Government formally acknowledged and apologized for the abuses of the residential schools. In 2007 it authorized payment of a $1.9-billion compensation package to surviving children who had been forced to attend the schools.

The Sakgeeng and other Indigenous peoples have criticized the government's Child and Family Services (CFS) for breaking up families, rather than working to hold them together by providing support to parents and children.[citation needed]

Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation Scandal[edit]

On October 18, 2000, Canadian Press organization reported that the Director of the Foundation, Perry Fontaine and 74 other persons attended a cruise to the Caribbean that was termed a "Staff Retreat". This treatment centre was located on Sagkeeng First Nation and the "Staff Retreat" required that the centre be closed. The cost of this trip was reported later to be over 135,000 dollars. Health Canada eventually investigated the financial books of the Center and found massive fraud and kickback schemes.[6][7][8]

Sagkeeng First Nation now hosts a family treatment center, the Sagkeeng Mino Pimatiziwin Family Treatment Center. The program has been successfully running for a few years. They work with entire families to learn how to work through problems and keep families together.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°36′23″N 96°17′38″W / 50.60639°N 96.29389°W / 50.60639; -96.29389