As It Happens

Diver finds evidence of Cree sacred site that was destroyed in 1966

Saskatoon-based diver, Steven Thair is the first person in nearly 50 years to lay eyes on what remains of an important First Nations' sacred site. For hundreds of years, the site - a giant boulder known in Cree as Mastaseni - marked a sacred meeting place in southern Saskatchewan. In 1966, government workers blew it up. It stood in the path of a...
Saskatoon-based diver, Steven Thair is the first person in nearly 50 years to lay eyes on what remains of an important First Nations' sacred site. For hundreds of years, the site - a giant boulder known in Cree as Mastaseni - marked a sacred meeting place in southern Saskatchewan. In 1966, government workers blew it up. It stood in the path of a man-made lake that was to be created by a dam.

The site, know as the Buffalo Child Rock, stood in the path of a man-made lake that was about to be created by a dam. Despite efforts by First Nations groups to preserve the 400-tonne rock, it was blown to pieces. It now lies on the floor of Lake Diefenbaker.


sacred rock - dive boat.jpg

Thair located the rock at a depth of 21 metres. As he was securing a search line, he lost his balance. When he put his hand out to steady himself, he touched the sharp edge of dynamited rock. He says it is a difficult dive, with visibility at less than 2 metres, with lights.

Tyrone Tootoosis, a member of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, was a part of the discovery team. His father, Wilfred Tootoosis, was one of the elders who fought the destruction of the consecrated site.


sacred rock steven thair.jpg
The hunt for Mastaseni started as a way for Steven Thair to get back into diving in Saskatchewan. It turned into something more. (Photo: LINDA MCCANN)

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