Ila Bussidor & Ustun Bilgen-Reinart
For over 1500 years, the Sayisi Dene, "The Dene from the East", led an independent life, following the caribou herds and having little contact with white society. In 1956, an arbitrary government decision to relocate them catapulted the Sayisi Dene into the 20th century. It replaced their traditional nomadic life of hunting and fishing with a slum settlement on the outskirts of Churchill, Man. Inadequately housed, without jobs, unfamiliar with the language or the culture, their independence and self-determination deteriorated into a tragic cycle of discrimination, poverty, alcoholism and violent death.
By the early 1970s, the band realized they had to take their future into their own hands again. After searching for a suitable location, they set up a new community at Tadoule Lake, 250 miles north of Churchill. Today they run their own health, education and community programs. But the scars of the relocation will take years to heal and Tadoule Lake is grappling with the problems of a people whose ties to the land, and to one another, have been tragically severed. (From University of Manitoba Press)