National Indigenous History Month, Honours The Community of Fox Lake Cree Nation, Gillam

A Community of Strength, Hope and Resilience

Image Credit, Fox Lake Cree Nation

In honour of National Indigenous History Month, we pay tribute to the remarkable community of Fox Lake Cree Nation, located 750 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This community, deeply entrenched in its land and culture, embodies resilience, warmth, and unwavering unity. With approximately 1300 members, Fox Lake stands as a beacon of Indigenous strength and perseverance.

For centuries, the Fox Lake Cree have thrived in Northern Manitoba, utilizing their holistic approach to life to adapt to changes brought by the fur trade and settlers. Despite enduring historical injustices, they have maintained their connection to the land and their cultural heritage. The arrival of the Canadian National Railway (CNR) brought new opportunities, and Fox Lake adapted, finding employment along the railway that aligned with their traditional way of life.

However, challenges arose when promised reserve land was not secured by the Government of Canada, leading to the creation of the Local Government District of Gillam in 1966. This district, reserved primarily for Manitoba Hydro’s hydroelectric projects, posed a threat to Fox Lake’s access to their traditional territory.

Fox Lake Cree Nation, as part of the Homeguard Cree, adhered to Treaty 5 in 1910, solidifying their rights within the Canadian framework. In 1947, the Government of Canada officially recognized Fox Lake as a distinct Nation, yet the struggle for land rights and sovereignty persists.

Under the leadership of Chief Morris Beardy and Councillors Sophie Lockhart and Jade Kirkness, Fox Lake continues to advocate for justice, change, and the preservation of Indigenous rights and traditions. Despite facing challenges such as housing and water scarcity, food safety concerns, and limited access to healthcare and recreational facilities, the community remains resilient and united.

During National Indigenous History Month, it is crucial to honour communities like Fox Lake Cree Nation, whose stories often go untold. By recognizing their collective contributions and resilience, we reaffirm our commitment to reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples across Canada. Fox Lake Cree Nation serves as a reminder of the enduring spirit and strength of Indigenous communities, who continue to persevere despite historical injustices and ongoing challenges.