August 15, 2018 Hay River, Northwest Territories Parks Canada Agency
Located on the lands of K’atl’oceeche First Nation, the historic structures and cemeteries of the Hay River Missions National Historic Site reflects decades of interaction between Indigenous and settler populations.
Today, Ms. Lisa Prosper, Northwest Territories Member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, commemorated the national historic significance of the Hay River Missions on the Hay River Reserve in the Northwest Territories. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna. A special ceremony was held at the Hay River Missions National Historic Site and was attended by the K’atl’oceeche First Nation community.
Situated at the mouth of the Hay River on the traditional lands of the South Slavey Dene, the Hay River Missions reflect an important period in relations between Dene and newcomers in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. The K’atl’odeeche First Nation and the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches forged significant relationships at these missions, which encompassed St. Peter’s Anglican Church and Ste. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, as well as a hospital, cemeteries, and other structures built over the course of several decades.
The historic structures and cemeteries are part of a cultural landscape that speaks to the blending of Indigenous and Christian beliefs in the early period of settlement in the Northwest Territories. Between 1893 and 1937, the site was also home to St. Peter’s Indian Residential School, which was attended by Indigenous students from as far away as Fort Chipewyan and Fort Norman, Northwest Territories, and Wrigley, Alberta.
The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places, and events that shaped our country’s history. The Government has recently announced funding for Parks Canada to incorporate Indigenous views, history and heritage into national parks and national historic sites. This is part of the Government’s commitment to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Parks Canada is committed to working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to recognize, commemorate and share Indigenous histories. Working together with more than 300 Indigenous communities across Canada, Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples are partners in conserving, restoring, and presenting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage.
“The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of the Hay River Missions. The site constitutes an important cultural resource, illustrative of a crucial stage in Dene and Euro-Canadian relations. Historic designations, like the Hay River Missions National Historic Site, reflect the rich and varied history of Canada and provide an opportunity for all Canadians to discover and connect with our diverse heritage.”
Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories
- Long before the establishment of the missions, the K’atl’odeeche First Nation lived along the K’atl’odeeche (Hay River) in the Northwest Territories. Since early times, Dene would gather for summer fishing at the mouth of the river, which also served as a gathering place in their seasonal round.
- In the 1890s, a group of Dene that settled at the mouth of the K’atl’odeeche (Hay River), petitioned for missionaries to be sent to the community and, in response, a resident Anglican missionary arrived in 1893.
- The Anglicans ran the St. Peter’s Indian Residential School at the mission site. It started as a day school in 1893 with five local students and expanded in 1895 to include a dormitory. The residential school was closed in 1937. Through national historic designations, as well as interpretive programs and materials, Parks Canada is ensuring that Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our history, including the difficult periods that are part of our past.
- Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that commemorates the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their history and cultures, as well as the special relationship Indigenous peoples have with traditional lands and waters.
- Indigenous peoples have been on the landscape since time immemorial and played a role in managing and conserving the natural and cultural heritage of these areas long before they were known as national parks and national historic sites.
- Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada’s history.
Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer
Southwest NWT Field Unit
Parks Canada Agency