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Poplar River First Nation


Poplar River First Nation

Poplar River First Nation (or Azaadiwi-ziibi Nitam-Anishinaabe in the Anishinaabe language) is an Ojibwa First Nation in Manitoba, Canada. Its landbase is the Poplar River 16 First Nation Reserve, located approximately on the east side of Lake Winnipeg at the mouth of the Poplar River. Geographically, it is located at latitude 52°59′46″ north and longitude 97°16′59″ west. The largest city nearest this community is Winnipeg located approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the south.

The current chief of Poplar River First Nation is Clifford Bruce. The Tribal Council affiliated with this First Nation is Southeast Resource Development Council. Poplar River First Nation is part of Treaty 5 Adhesion, signed on September 20, 1875.


Poplar River First Nation 16 Reserve is 3,800 acres (1,500 ha). As of 2006, the total population of registered Indians was 1,363 (50.55% female/49.45% male) with 1093 on reserve (80.2%), and 270 off reserve (19.8%). The primary language spoken is Ojibwe, with some blending of the Cree dialect. The majority of surnames are Bruce, Franklin, and Berens.

There is an additional population consisting of Métis and non-status First Nations residing within Poplar River First Nation, as well as in the Métis settlement. The exact numbers have not been recorded.


The town itself is embedded along the main Poplar River with the primary township located on an atoll of land between Poplar River and Franklin River. The majority of the population resides along these two rivers, including three habitable islands located within the main Poplar River. Gravel highways traverse throughout most of the community, and there are bridge crossings over the rivers. There are no paved concrete or asphalt roads or sidewalks.

Even though most people today use automobiles to travel the gravel paved roads, the use of watercraft and winter snowmobiles still remains.

Called "Asatiwisipe Aki" by the First Nation, their traditional land has been designated as a protected area with the support of the Manitoba government. It is one of the last remaining pristine river areas in the world, particularly in southern Canada. The river is very clean, with little or no man-made pollutants in the watershed. The Poplar River area may soon be designated as a section of a United Nations Heritage Site.

Environmental profile

The water, land, forest and beaches continue to remain free of pollution and industrial activity. There are vistas that have only the sounds of the wind, water and nature to break the silence.

The land is not fit for farming, so therefore self-sufficiency based on agriculture is not an option. Due to its geographic location during the Pleistocene period, or last ice age, this land was located under a large glacier that ploughed away the topsoils that are necessary for agriculture. Perhaps only 10 centimetres or more of cultivatable soil has accumulated over the past 10,000 years, but what remains underneath is fine clay particulates. This is evident during the warmer summer months when clay mud is prominent throughout most of the foot-travelled areas of the community.

Aurora Borealis can be seen regularly across the night skies.

The people

Poplar River First Nation is a "dry" reserve, in which alcohol has been outlawed. Despite this, alcoholism still occurs within the community. There are no official figures but it is believed that alcohol addiction has dropped noticeably within the last decade. However, it is suspected that drug abuse may be on the rise. The general overall state of health for the community is lower than the national average. Due to genetic predispositions that are known to influence the metabolism of aboriginals, the lack of education regarding proper nutrition and the importance of exercise, obesity and diabetes are still a health threat to a portion of the population.

The extremely high rate of unemployment has continued to be an issue of concern for the community. This is due to the lack of businesses or new enterprises that would normally provide employment for citizens. A large portion of the population collects social assistance in order to survive, and this has been an unavoidable fact of life for many generations of families.

Serious criminal activity is nearly non-existent.

Historically, cross-cultural influence by early European settlers and their governments are believed to have been the source of many problems for aboriginal peoples. The attempted assimilation of aboriginals is a well-known failure, and the loss of the traditional culture and religious beliefs has created a strong sense of hostility, loss and hopelessness within many aboriginal communities.

More importantly, in more recent decades the sudden change to mainstream diet could also have negative side-effects, not just with members of this community, but for all First Nation people; on or off reserve. The introduction of additives to foods such as hormones, antibiotics, tranquilizers, excessively high sugar, salt, and other additives, and even caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, could cause chemical changes in the bodies of First Nation people interfering with mental wellness. None of these substances except nicotine existed in their lives for thousands of years. Studies have shown that chemical imbalances could lead to irrational thoughts and behaviours triggering lengthy episodes of depression, anxiety, hostility and dependence on alcohol or mood-altering prescription medication or illegal drugs. This would explain the high incidents of alcoholism, higher than average rates of suicide, as well as other social ills. A sedentary lifestyle devoid of physical exercise is also known to trigger lengthy negative emotional events. There have been no in-depth scientific studies or analysis into this particular area specifically targeted at the First Nation peoples.

It has been recently discovered that the return to traditional spiritual, cultural, familial and dietary lifestyles could provide a more healthy way of life for aboriginal communities. While fishing and hunting has been practised by the elders, this knowledge is being taught and passed on to future generations. The preservation of the Ojibwa dialect is also paramount, and the return to traditional spiritual healing ceremonies and medicines may also remedy the mental, physical and emotional ills that are of great concern to the community. These teachings are ongoing.

The people in this community still persevere to overcome adversity today.


  • Northern, or The North West Company, is the largest business selling general merchandise ranging from household goods, food, petroleum products, electronics, clothing and more. Its predecessor was Hudson's Bay Company. The costs of goods in this community are higher than the Canadian average due to having to ship products via airplane, barge (during the summer months) or truck (during the winter months) from the main distribution outlets in Selkirk or Winnipeg, which are hundreds of kilometres south.
  • Mitasosipe Trading Post is the second largest store selling general merchandise.
  • Negginan Harbour Authority Inc. is the main small craft docking station which is officially governed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • Poplar River Elder's Lodge is a care facility for Poplar River's elderly population.
  • During the winter months, Poplar River is accessible via Winter Road. It is accessible year round via airplane, and via barge or water vessels during the summer months.
  • The majority of residents have modern conveniences of running water and plumbing.
  • Children attend Poplar River Elementary School from grade 1 to 9. This school features a modern gymnasium, library and standard education programs. Members who pursue education beyond grade 9 must attend high schools, universities or colleges off reserve.
  • Most members of this community are still highly fluent in their first tongue, Ojibwe language.
  • Persons of non-First Nation descent, or members of other First Nations who have decided to make Poplar River their home adapt very well, and members are quick to welcome and embrace newcomers.
  • More and more members of this community have broadband internet access, and internet usage is growing. In addition, many households own satellite dish receivers for their television entertainment needs.
  • Youth of this community are influenced by national and international pop culture including music, movies and fashion trends from around the world thanks to satellite television and the internet.
  • the two main religions practiced in Poplar River are Roman Catholic and Pentecostal

Official address

Poplar River First Nation
P.O. Negginan
Poplar River, Manitoba R0B 0Z0
Phone: 204-244-2267
Fax: 204-244-2690
official web site featuring facts, images, maps and more.

External links

  • Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
  • Assembly of First Nations
  • Famous Native Americans
  • Weshki-ayaad's Introduction to Ojibwe Language and Culture
  • First Perspective - Aboriginal News
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Indian and Northern Affairs
  • Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs
  • NCI FM - Native Communications Inc.
  • The North West Company
  • Poplar River First Nation
  • Southeast Community Futures Development Corporation
  • The Weather Network - Poplar River First Nation Weather
  • Map of Poplar River 16 at Statcan

Coordinates: 52°59′46″N 97°16′59″W / 52.99611°N 97.28306°W / 52.99611; -97.28306

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