The Canoe Lake First Nation came into existence when Chief John Iron, Headmen Baptiste Iron, and Jerome Couilloneur signed Treaty 10 on September 19, 1906. These Cree speakers occupied a very large region with varied resources. Able-bodied band members lived mostly by hunting and trapping, while the older or feebler members depended upon fish as their primary food source. Their traditional way of life still prevailed in 1954, when the creation of the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range removed 75% of their most productive lands. The community had not undergone any major change or development since the time of treaty, and even commercial fishing was comparatively recent because of poor access to markets. In 1975, the Canoe Lake Cree Nation (among others) submitted a claim for the loss of their traditional territory; and in 1995 the government accepted the claim, stating that it had no legal obligation but acknowledged there was a need to improve the economic and social circumstances of the community. The claim was settled in June 1997. The band’s population currently sits at 1,764 persons, with 755 residing on their 14,172.6 ha of reserve land (the most populated of which is 37 km southwest of Ile-à-la-Crosse). The band’s economic development includes hunting, fishing, trapping, lumber, a sawmill, and handicraft business. The infrastructure includes an arena, school, handicraft building, sawmill, band office, teacherages, band hall, café, service station, laundromat, and recreation building/pool hall.

Christian Thompson