ERFN MISSION STATEMENT:
English River First Nation will preserve and protect English River First Nation customs and traditions.
It will preserve and promote the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual values while it leads us into the
future with a holistic and respectful mindset of a prospering nation.
Situated on the majestic waters of the Churchill River and surrounded by thousands of square miles of pristine forests, the beautiful Village of Patuanak is the home of almost a thousand Dene speaking inhabitants. The River, which winds its way by the community, has been the mainstay of the peoples living here in the heart of the wilderness of northern Saskatchewan. It yields up abundant quantities of fish and the hunting and trapping in the area made it a choice location for many generations of Aboriginal inhabitants.
Stretching out for miles around this friendly community and its surrounding region are the resources that have attracted many developments over the past few decades. Although the traditional means of securing a livelihood have waned many inhabitants still “Live off of the Land”. Others are now are employed in a wide variety of vocational activities from government to the service industries to forestry and mining, occupations which they commute out to at other northern points.
A friendly and growing community, which was made up by an ingathering of people from many smaller locations, Patuanak, is situated in the heart of the English River Band’s traditional hunting and fishing range. From it’s founding to the present day, the area’s greatest wealth has been its forests, rivers and lakes, which continue to provide rich harvests. Patuanak offers the scenic beauty and serenity of a truly remote northern village, yet is conveniently accessed by all weather road with many of the northwest’s centers close at hand. The community has modern facilities and an excellent school, along with a small business community that offers a range of products and services.
English River First Nation is a Dene community of about 800 people and is located west of the Shagwanew Rapids on the Churchill River. The pleasant and spacious community stretches for a mile and a half along the shoreline, with the reserve near the year-round open water below the rapids and the non-Treaty homes facing onto Shagwenew Lake. Most of the families now at Patuanak traditionally lived down river at Primeau Lake, Dipper Lake and Knee Lake or Cree Lake.
In 1916 Father Louis Moraud became the resident priest of Patuanak and served the English River Band area until his death in 1965. The main denomination is Roman Catholic. Patuanak’s permanent population remained small until 1968 when all the people in the surrounding areas began moving in. In 1968, the school opened at Patuanak and many families moved in so their children could attend. Prior to 1968, the children were sent to the mission schools at Beauval and Ile a la Crosse, while their families went north to trap.
The traditional activities of the people of Patuanak can be seen on all sides during visitations, such as moose hide tanning, beadwork of various sorts and birch toboggans. Patuanak people are employed in a wide variety of jobs such as the mines at Rabbit Lake and Key Lake, government jobs or Band office employed. The quality of life in Patuanak owes much in the way residents have combined their cultural past with today’s new opportunities.
Recreation for the youth and elders, as well as parents has been a big interest in the Patuanak community. A variety of sports are initiated for members of all ages such as: Volleyball, Baseball, Slo-pitch, Soccer, Hockey, Broomball, etc. Culture camps are held within the surrounding area, as well as youth conferences for the youth and surrounding communities.