The English River First Nation is located in northern Saskatchewan. The First Nation is made up of two populated communities the largest one is Patuanak which is mostly Dene and the other is La Plonge which Cree/Dene.
The English River First Nation is a signatory to Treaty 10 which was signed on August 28, 1906 at Île-à-la-Crosse. Click on links for further information on Treaty 10 www.otc.ca or www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca
The chief at the time of signing was Chief William Apesis.
Patuanak is the administrative centre for the English River First Nation (ERFN) and it is located at the end of SK Highway 918, a gravel road, 90 kilometres north of Highway 55 northwest of the community of La Plonge. Patuanak consists of a reserve community which has 625 members living in 150 houses and a hamlet with about 75 residents.
Patuanak (Wapachewunak 192D) is located west of the Shagwenaw Rapids near the Churchill River which locals refer to as the Great River. The community is at the north end of Lac Île-à-la-Crosse. The community stretches for a mile and half along the shoreline, with the reserve near the year-open water below the rapids and the hamlet houses facing onto Shagwenaw Lake.
In Dene, Patuanak sounds like Bahn Jehreh which means water that rips through the land.
In the past, Patuanak was a fur-buying centre after the Hudson’s Bay Company set up a store to replace those further down the Churchill River. Patuanak’s permanent population remained small until 1968 when all the people in the surrounding areas began gathering at Patuanak mainly because facilities were being built in the community. A school opened at Patuanak and many families moved in so their children could attend. Prior to this, children were educated at mission schools in Beauval and Île-à-la-Crosse while the families were nomadic moving to various areas to trap. Families now living at Patuanak traditionally lived down river at Cree Lake, Dipper Lake, Knee Lake, or Primeau Lake.
Other families decided to live at La Plonge as they wanted to be close to their children who were attending school at Beauval. La Plonge which is located eight kilometres east of Beauval. La Plonge is a Cree/Dene Community and is comprised of about 125 members. There are approximately 47 houses at La Plonge.
La Plonge 192 Reserve is located across from the Beaver River where the Beauval Residential School was located. The Beauval Indian Residential School opened in 1895 and closed in 1983. It then became the Meadow Lake Tribal Council’s Beauval Indian Education Centre which closed in 1995. The building has since been demolished.
As in most northern communities, the Hudson’s Bay Company set up a store at Patuanak to replace those further down the Churchill River, which made Patuanak a fur-buying centre.
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 English River First Nation can be seen during visitations, such as moose hide tanning, beadwork of various sorts and birch toboggans.
Members of English River First Nation living in both La Plonge and Patuanak are employed in a wide variety of job. Employment sees members work at the mines at Rabbit Lake and Key Lake. Members also work at government jobs or work for the First Nation’s administrative office or businesses owned by the First Nation such as the English River First Nation General Store and Gas Bar at Beauval, the Convenience Store and Gas Bar in Patuanak, and working for Tron Construction and Mining in both communities.
The English River First Nation is governed by a Chief and and six Councillors who are currently elected to a two-year term. The current term began on October 30, 2013 and expires on October 29, 2015.
In Patuanak are many facilities including the following:
• English River First Nation Administration Centre;
• Great River Nursing Station including an Ambulance Service;
• CPAT 89.9 Radio Station;
• English River First Nation Maintenance and Operations Centre;
• Ovide G. McIntyre Memorial Area;
• RCMP detachment;
• Sekwiaze Koe Daycare Centre;
• St. Louis School serving students in Grades K to 12;
• St. Louis Roman Catholic Church;
• William Apesis Memorial Band Hall;
• Willow Heart Bridge which crosses the Churchill River; and
• Youth Centre
La Plonge has a Community Building that is now fully accessible for persons with physical challenges.
In both La Plonge and Patuanak are located cemeteries, fire halls, lagoons, landfills, sewage collection and lagoons, and water treatment stations and distributions.
The following are the reserve lands of the English River First Nation: