Black Lake, Sask.
Ph: 284 2044
The Black Lake Denesuline First Nation Chief and Council, as elected officials, are committed to moving forward on issues, such as, housing, healthcare, social, high cost of living index, increase in capital funds and bringing stability to band controlled finances. The Athabasca Region remains very traditional and culturally orientated with the Dene Language still very strong. The hunting, fishing and trapping is very evident on a year-round basis in terms of both commercial and private pursuits. The people still rely very heavily on the age-old tradition of harvesting Caribou as the major source of our diet. However, there is a need to retain the knowledge of external sources to assist with the rapidly changing world that we live in. As far as we are concerned, the residents of the Athabasca Region are still living in Third World conditions, right here in Canada! We have the highest rates of suicide within the Athabasca Region, due to poor housing, lack of recreation facilities for the youth, and low unemployment rates. There is very little interest shown in rectifying these conditions so that all children, youth and families can lead healthy and well balanced lives. There needs to be stronger commitment by government, mining industry and other sources to ensure that the Athabasca Region is not marginalized when it comes to sharing the wealth of the abundance of natural resources.
The Black Lake Denesuline Nation, formerly known as Stony Rapids Indian Band, is a signatory to Treaty 8 signed in 1899. Originally, our band members were a part of the Fond du Lac Indian Band at the hectares and is located 170 kilometres southeast of Uranium City. Historically, the people lead a nomadic lifestyle that coincided with the seasonal migration of the caribou herds. The people initially settled in the Stony Lake prior to relocating to the area currently occupied by the Fishing Camp on the banks of the Black Lake River. The current community of Black Lake was settled in the early 1950,s after a new Roman Catholic Church was constructed. The Dene language is still very strong and continues to be taught by the Elders to the children and youth both at home and within the school system.
First Nations need an educated workforce in order to take advantage of the Northern Economic Development opportunities. The retention of our Culture and language is also very important for it is this vehicle that passes our history, our values, our teachings to our youth and children. In order to reconstruct our nations we require a strong knowledge base about our past. We have designed programs and services that give our learners the best possible experiences to live in both worlds. Father Porte Memorial Denesuline School has approximately 400 students enrolled. Eight of our 21 educators are band members and have both a working and familial knowledge of our students. In order to assist in the academic and social development of our students we have also hired 16 teacher assistants who participate in daily classroom activities. There were a total of 2 graduates for the 2003/2004 academic school year.
A community Elder also contributes to the education of our students and is a valued member of our teaching staff. Students have an opportunity to experience course lessons that focus on the significance of our traditional and cultural practices, including the passing on and retention of our Dene language.
Father Porte Memorial Denesuline School is committed to the development of our students within the context of academic and personal growth. We incorporate traditional and cultural teachings in our educational programming on a daily basis. However, a week is set aside each year for the students to participate in a ´Culture Camp.´ This year the camp was held May 24 to 28, 2004, and focused on the providing students with activities such as, drum making, drum dance, hand games, preparation of dry meat and fish. Elders play a significant role in the education of our students.
The highlight of the year for 6 high school students and 4 chaperones consisted of touring through Europe for a two week period from April 24 to May 3, 2004, with the Travel Club. The group was able to visit such, cites as Buckingham Palace in England, the Eiffel Tower in France, besides going to Italy. They travelled with another group from the US Virgin Islands and would highly recommend it to other schools! Quote “It was a once in a lifetime experience and would like to go again”! Travel Club member Jackie Robillard. The tour was made possible through various fundraising efforts throughout the school year and through secure sponsorship.
Other School Activities
- Ski Loppett was held in March, 2004, with 200+ students
- participating from Grades 4-9
- Jump for Heart in the fall and Hoops for Heart in the winter through Sask. Health & Education
- Special Needs work Program through Gary Tinker Federation for 4 individuals
- Mine Tour of McLean Lake on May 19, 2004, for the High School students.
The Community Health Clinic will be undergoing some re-alignment, due to the construction of a new Nurses Residence within the 2004/2005 fiscal period . This will enable the Health Clinic to expand by adding Dental Therapy and Mental Health services to the existing Nursing Program.
Community Healing Initiative
The Community Healing Initiative is a new program being offered for 2004/2005 in conjunction with the Prince Albert Grand Council. The program is designed to further enhance community healing capacity efforts by developing and implementing relevant training components. A Project Facilitator has been hired to coordinate this two-year initiative under the guidance of the Residential School Steering Committee.
Athabasca Health Facility: Yutthe Dene Nakohoki
The Yutthe Dene Nakohoki “A Place to Heal Northern People” celebrated it´s Grand Opening in June of 2003. The new Athabasca Health Facility provides full services to the northern communities of Uranium City, Fondu Lac, Stony Rapids and Black Lake. It is located on Reserve, adjacent to the community of Stony Rapids. Northern residence have access to both acute and long-term care, inpatient Care, community and education services. This facility offers and utilizes both modern and traditional First Nation health care methods. At the heart of the building you will find a community gathering place for families and patients, a traditional healing room is also available. The building program contains spaces for Emergency and Ambulatory Care, digital diagnostic imaging facilities, laboratory, radiology, administrative services, food services, housekeeping and laundry, staff facilities, storage and receiving and building operations. Currently the Health Care Facility employs 20 members from the Black Lake First Nation. The building also houses NNADAP and ICFS.
Black Lake Hydro Project
The Hydro Project has seen the completion of Phase I, which included the Feasibility Study for the construction of a Hydro Dam at Elizabeth Falls. The Feasibility Study (completed 2 years ago) highlighted recommendations on the partnerships required, bank loans, test drilling to find composition of materials on site, road accessibility, freight and labour costs, and turbine powered technology. A Project Coordinator has been retained to oversee Phase Two of this 95 million dollar initiative.