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Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation


The original members of the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation emigrated from the Sault Ste. Marie area near Lake Superior to settle along the shores of Lake Manitoba. They were initially known as the “White Mud River Band”.

They survived by means of fishing, hunting deer and small game and gathering of wild berries and rice. Agriculture also played a part in their livelihood, with planting and harvesting of corn and squash. Dwellings consisted of birch or juniper bark covered dwellings, supported by willow saplings, referred to as the “waaginogan” or wigwam.

Tribe members were divided into “clans” and assigned animal totems, the main five totems being the Crane, Catfish, Loon, Marten and Bear. Traditional summer gatherings to celebrate harvesting and enjoy social interaction are reflected in present day powwows.


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The Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation was a signatory to Treaty #1 in 1871, represented by Chief Yellowquill. At that time, they were a component of the “Portage Band” that included Sandy Bay, Long Plain and Swan Lake First Nations.

In 1872, the governing chief of Sandy Bay First Nation sent formal request to the Indian Commissioner representing the Crown that an area of land be surveyed for his people, thus distinguishing the Sandy Bay Ojibways from the established Portage Band. The request was formally granted in June of 1876, recognizing the three bands as distinct Nations. The Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation settled along the western shore of Lake Manitoba.


Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation is situated just 90 kilometers northwest of Portage la Prairie and 165 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba. As of March 2008, statistics show a registered membership of 5,438 band members. Affiliated with the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council #2162, Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation reserve land covers a total area of 6,659.6 hectares.

Arts and Culture

The Sandy Bay First Nation community has remained strong and resolute in its preservation of language and traditional roots, with a high percentage of its members fluent in their mother tongue of Ojibway.

2007 marked the 28th anniversary of the “Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation Powwow”. Generally held in late August, the competition showcases a range of traditional dancers, with prizes awarded in mens, ladies, and junior boys and girls categories. A full range of entertainment and family oriented activities are a complimentary part of the festive gathering.

Sandy Bay Nation has produced a number of individuals that strive to develop and challenge their own education and creativity, and in the process, inspire fellow band members and add to the advancement of the community.

Alice Summers, of the Bear Clan, produces traditional hand-crafted mukluks, mittens, slippers, vests, papoose dolls, barrettes and moccasins through skilled leather and beadwork.

Gabriel Beaulieau, of Ojibway-Cree/Russian descent, transformed the past of a troubled youth into an artistic success story. Discovering his gifted abilities as a painter and carver, Gabriel has gone on to receive awards for his work on canvas and automobiles, with recognition in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Vera Houle is an experienced reporter, producer and executive producer, with her career starting at CTV/CKY in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2001, she joined APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), eventually advancing to Director of News and Current Affairs in 2005. Fluent in her native Ojibway language, Vera was appointed Communications Advisor for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in 2002.

MAYAA (Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards) awarded Francine Compton with top honors in the Artistic-Visual category for her outstanding work in her role as APTN’s National News Studio Director. Francine is one of the youngest full-time directors in Canada. Prior to her visual achievements, she competed in summer powwows as a fancy shawl dancer.

Daniel McKennitt , through his studies of medicine, mathematics and physical science, is motivated to find ways to improve the overall health and success of Aboriginal youth. He has worked with the University of Alberta, Alberta Advanced Education and Canadian Heritage and is recognized as one of twelve recipients of the National Aboriginal Health Organization Youth Role Models of 2006-2007.

Achievements and Progression

Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation is a small but evolving community. On-site facilities include a band administration office, Hector Thiboutot Community School, arena and recreation center, health center, fire hall and First Nations police detachment.

A full range of child and family services, housing, college and post-secondary education and career opportunities are available to band members through the DOTC (Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council).

Magnus Mousseau, a Sandy Bay Youth Council representative, has organized a range of activities for the young people within the community ranging from softball to tae-kwondo, in an effort to instill a sense of belonging and commitment, and a genuine pride in community.

A high number of tourists are attracted to the natural beauty of the Sandy Bay area lakes and woodlands. The members of the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation are welcoming and accommodating in sharing their knowledge of the land and the culture of their people, a true reflection of the spirit of the Ojibway.

Just the Facts Please (Source: 2006 Statistics Canada Census)

2006 Population 2,518

2001 Population 2,446

Population Fluctuation +2.9%

Land Area (square km) 61.42

Population Density (per square km) 41.0

Total Private Dwellings 518

Total Population 15 Years and Over 59.4%

Knowledge of Aboriginal Language 54%