About Lac Seul First Nation
Lac Seul First Nation’s geographical location is in Northwestern Ontario, approximately 38 kilometers northwest of Sioux Lookout. Total membership population is at 3,452 based on INAC’s May 2017 records. Thirty percent of the membership are on reserve residents.
Lac Seul First Nation is distinct because it is the only First Nation in the Sioux Lookout District with four ( 4 ) communities. They are Kejick Bay, Canoe River and Whitefish Bay located on the north shores of the Lac Seul Watershed System and Frenchman’s Head on the Lost Lake is part of the English River System.
The road access to Frenchman’s Head, Kejick Bay and Whitefish Bay communities are now by paved road. Canoe River Kejick Bay is accessible by air, boat, or snowmobile. The communities are some distance apart. Frenchman’s Head road is approximately 9 km from the town of Hudson, accessing via Highway 664. Kejick Bay is 21 km north-northwest of Frenchman’s Head. Whitefish Bay is in close proximity to Kejick Bay at a distance of 2 km to the southwest. Canoe River is 2 km to the northeast from Kejick Bay.
Lac Seul First Nation’s four communities have modern infrastructures with medical clinics, schools, recreational facilities, a full police service, band administrative offices and warehouse buildings, churches, a water treatment plant and ground water supply units, tourist camps and a few small businesses. Each community, expect Canoe River, has access to hydro, running water and communication services. The nearby town of Sioux Lookout serves as the main centre for commerce and government services but does not limit the people from traveling and doing business elsewhere.
The name Lac Seul is French meaning “Lonely Lake”. The Ojibways of Lac Seul call the lake “Obijikokang” meaning “strait of the white pines” or “Obutogokang” meaning “rolling hills with tall white pines, birch trees and shallow sandy beaches”. The Elders who remember the lake before the flooding described Lac Seul as “picturesque and serene”. The lake was long and narrow, scattered islands, sandy beaches and rolling hills. Their traditional territories were vast stretching from NNE of Red Lake, all along the shores of the Lac Seul Watershed, down through Minnitaki Lake and east to Sturgeon Lake. The Objiways of Lac Seul had names in areas and places where they lived, fished, hunted and trapped.
There is evidence of early contact with European fur traders and explorers. In 1791, John Long and in 1874, Edward Umfreville traveled through Lac Seul keeping notes in their journals as they traveled through the area.
The Hudson Bay Company opened a post in 1803 for a year and did not build a permanent post until 1815. William Thomas was the factor for the Hudson Bay Company in 1803. The Hudson Bay Company was operated until the 1980’s.
In 1873, the Saulteaux – Ojibway tribes of Northwestern Ontario signed Treaty Number Three (3), at Northwest Angle, thereby surrendering their vast traditional territories to Her Most Gracious Majesty The Queen of Great Britain and Ireland in return for “reserves” and other certain “treaty rights” and 1874, the Lac Seul Band signed an Adhesion of Lac Seul Indians to Treaty No. Three ( 3 ) giving the Band treaty status.
In 1926, the Government of Canada opened an Indian Residential School at Pelican Falls (16 mi. west of Sioux Lookout) and was operated by the Anglican Church of Canada. The Government of Canada’s idea to “assimilate the Indian” caused negative impacts for many First Nations people that attended Residential Schools. In 1929, a hydro dam at Ear Falls opened subsequently causing many people to suffer damages and loss of land. The Lac Seul First Nation government is in the process of negotiating towards settlements and putting past grievances behind flood damages. The Government of Canada has also announced to compensate Residential School survivors.
An Elder, Henry Ackewance ( aka; Hank or Henry Ogemah ) formally of Frenchman’s Head, now residing in Sioux Lookout was the first “Indian” to be registered at the newly opened Indian Residential School at Pelican Lake. Henry is also a direct descendant of the invading Sioux tribe from the south of the border, were defeated by the Objiways of Lac Seul. The battle took place around the Sioux Mountain area.
As indications to the 1900’s, technology aroused the curiosity of many First Nation members, it would be no doubt be a turning point in their lifestyles. Early airplane contacts were frightening, causing some to panic or flee. Campbell’s canned tomato soups became the main flavouring ingredient for soups and homebrews. Television sets did not become popular until into the 1970’s. The favourite weekend programs were Hockey Night in Canada and Bonanza. Kejick Bay was the first community to get a school and a radio-phone service. Whitefish Bay’s population increased and tourism has become the local industry. The first community to access hydro and telephone services and an all-weather road was Frenchman’s Head.
Reminders of yester year are now much but forgotten. The commercial fishing, trapping, summer camps, prominent landmarks and places where people gathered, are just a few of Lac Seul’s past specifics.
Today, Lac Seul First Nation is modern and has experienced a tremendous period of change during the last fifty years, utilizing wisdom and taking that responsibility to overcoming barriers.
Kejick Bay 293
Whitefish Bay 150
Frenchmans Head 491
On – Reserve Total 934
Off – Reserve Total 2,508
Land Base: 66,000 acres
See website www.Lacseulfn.org
Background photo by Bobby Binguis Photography