Black Lake Denesuline First Nation

    The community of Black Lake is situated in northern Saskatchewan’s Athabasca region approximately 1,180 km northwest of Prince Albert1. It currently maintains a total registered membership of 2,035 members, with 1,586 of those members residing on reserve and 442 members residing at locations off reserve2.

    The people of Black Lake initially settled in 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 1950s after a new Roman Catholic church was constructed. The Dene language is still very strong and continues to be taught by the Elders to children and youth, both at home and within the school system. The people continue to maintain their traditional lifestyle with hunting, fishing and trapping very evident on a year-round basis in terms of both commercial and private pursuits3.

    Access to the community is by air to Stony Rapids and then by all weather road approximately 20 km to Black Lake. Access to the Athabasca Seasonal Road (provincial highway 905) also lies between the two communities. The Father Porte Memorial Denesuline school provides education from kindergarten to grade 12. The school is committed to incorporating traditional and cultural teachings in their educational programming on a daily basis. A week is set aside each year for Culture Camp which focuses on providing students with activities such as drum making, drum dance, hand games, and preparation of dry meat and fish4.

    The membership of Black Lake Denesuline First Nation not only manage and administer their own programs for education, health, social development, etc., they have also made a number of sound development and business investments. The Athabasca Health Facility “Yutthe Dene Nakohoki” provides full services to the northern communities of Uranium City, Fond du Lac, Stony Rapids and Black Lake. It is located on the Black Lake Denesuline Reserve, adjacent to the community of Stony Rapids and is only hospital in the Athabasca Region. The community also has a new northern Store and gas bar, band office, community hall, health clinic, church, and pool hall.

1 Prince Albert Grand Council. 2008. E-culture: Black Lake. Website: http://eculture.pagc.sk.ca/eculture.php?pid=Black-Lake&tp=slnk&language=&ver=f. Accessed December 2012.
2Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. 2012. Registered population of Black Lake. Website: http://pse5-esd5.ainc-inac.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/FNRegPopulation.aspx?BAND_NUMBER=359&lang=eng
3Prince Albert Grand Council. 2012. Black Lake Denesuline First Nation. Website: http://www.pagc.sk.ca/pagc.asp?ID=1. Accessed December 2012.
4Prince Albert Grand Council. 2012. Black Lake Denesuline First Nation. Website: http://www.pagc.sk.ca/pagc.asp?ID=1. Accessed December 2012.