Constance Lake First Nation is located just West of Hearst, Ontario on Highway 11 in Ontario, Canada, which is where the nearest airport & Greyhound bus station is located.
Tribal Name: Constance Lake First Nation
Band No. 182
Size: 7686 acres in size, of which approximately 18 are covered by water.
There is an abundance of lakes, rivers and creeks throughout the First Nation region. Wildlife and many species of fish abound and there are numerous stands of birch, popular, spruce, jack pine and cedar trees.
The original reserve was 12 square miles and was included in the schedule of reserves attached to Treaty 9. Its selection was approved by Ontario in 1907 through an Order in Council, but it was not surveyed or set aside as a reserve until 1912.
Treaties: Treaty 9
Constance Lake First Nation is primarily the successor of the English River First Nation, which was considered an offshoot of the Albany Band by the commissioners at the time of signing and conclusion of Treaty 9.
Shortly after Treaty 9 was concluded, the commissioners arrived at English River on July 27, 1905. They decided that the Indians at English River were really a branch of the band residing at Albany, and as such, it was not necessary to have them sign the Treaty separately – they were already Treaty beneficiaries. However, the people living there were given their own reserve at English River.
Population: About 1470 members.
Language: Cree and Ojibway
Transportation and Communications:
Constance Lake First Nation is linked by an all-weather road to the Trans-Canada Highway. This is a rapidly-growing community with an up-to-date communications infrastructure in place as well as a well maintained road system. There is easy access from the reserve to bus, rail and air services.
Newspaper: Wawatay Newspaper
Radio Station: Wawatay Radio
Constance Lake also has a Fire Station that has volunteer fire fighters and is managed by the Jane Mattinas Health Centre
Grades K-5 attend Little Lambs Gathering Day Care Centre. Elementary school education is provided at the Clayton Brown Public School for grades 6 to 8. Secondary school education is provided by Hearst High School, where students are bussed 40 miles away.
The people at English River did not elect their first Chief until 1921.
Between 1925-1940, many families from English River re-located to Pagwa (nearby the present-day Constance Lake reserve) to follow employment opportunities. People from Fort Albany and Moose Factory also moved to Pagwa around that time.
The historical report cites correspondence between a reverend and Indian Affairs. Reverend Clarke requested funding for a school at Pagwa but received the response that Indian Affairs did not fund schools off reserve.
Clarke then began to lobby for a reserve to be established at Pagwa, rather than forcing the Indians to return to the reserve at English River.
A report in May 1940 documented that the majority of the English River Band resided at Pagwa, but it was not until 1943 that Indian Affairs began to contemplate creating a new Band of Indians for those living at Pagwa.
Inspector Arneil surveyed the area to find a suitable area for a reserve and chose Calstock. He also recommended that those members of Albany and Moose Factory (Attawapiskat) Bands who resided at Pagwa should be transferred to the new Band.
So, the new Band absorbed essentially the whole of the English River Band and also members of the Albany and Moose Factory Bands who lived nearby.
The request was made to Ontario for land to accommodate “a future population where there would be home sites, garden lands, sufficient pasturage for a cow or a couple of goats for each family.”
The province tentatively agreed to provide land and include the water body of Constance Lake. There was also mention of returning the English River Reserve to the province.
However, this never took place because the province did not feel that the land had any value. On February 11, 1944, an Order in Council was passed regarding the purchase of this land for the new Constance Lake Band.
A survey of the Calstock Reserve, now named Constance Lake, was completed on September 21, 1944, and it was vested in Canada on January 9, 1945. On March 16, 1945, an Order in Council was passed setting aside the land as an Indian Reserve for the use and benefits of Constance Lake First Nation.
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