A visit to Swan Lake First Nation: Community pride shines through

Swan Lake First Nation logo

July 12, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


Swan Lake is a beautiful First Nation in southwestern Manitoba. The community, set amongst lush rolling hills, held its annual pow wow on the first weekend of July. Grand Chief Arlen Dumas was honoured to be a part of the grand entry.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas with Swan Lake Chief Francine Meeches

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas with Swan Lake Chief Francine Meeches

It was the Grand Chief’s first time visiting Swan Lake First Nation. Upon arriving in the Anishinabe community about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg, it becomes clear immediately this is a First Nation that puts a lot of care into taking care of the land and its infrastructure. The lawns are manicured and the houses are well-maintained.

There is a buffalo ranch, a modern Band office, and the Sand Hills Gaming Centre on the reserve. Close to the school you can find a beautiful splash pad that is suitable for children of all ages.

Swan Lake First Nation is led by Chief Francine Meeches along with Councillors Angie Black, Germaine Cameron, Roberta Morrisette, and Craig Soldier.

“We have a population of approximately 600 on reserve,” said Chief Meeches. “We have renovated the majority of our homes and continue to ensure we host events to bring our people together. We have seen that when we encourage interaction and positive relationships that our children will have a memorable childhood. Yes we have our social issues like all across this country however we continue to brainstorm different ways of addressing the problems the best way possible.”

Some may be familiar with the name Swan Lake due to its urban reserve, which is located in the rural municipality of Headingley, just west of Winnipeg. Swan Lake owns 50 acres of land beside the Trans-Canada highway. The urban reserve has office buildings, a gas station, and a small video-lottery gaming room that have brought in millions of dollars for the community.

“Since I have been here the pride has grown within our community as we also educate our people that what we have does not belong to Chief and Council but to the community as a whole,” explained Chief Meeches. “I feel that is what encourages our people to take care of our community and you can see that in the maintenance that’s ongoing.”

“There have been many visits from outside organizations and groups that have toured our community to see what we do and continue to do for our people,” stated Chief Meeches. “We are fortunate to live in a beautiful scenic part of Manitoba and we believe our leader Chief Yellowquill back in the day made one of the wisest choices to bring our people here when he separated from the Portage Bands.”

Aerial view of the Swan Lake pow wow

An aerial view of the Swan Lake pow wow in July 2018

“Swan Lake is a First Nation success story,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas. “It’s clear from visiting the community that Chief and Council are dedicated to building their community up in a positive way that supports citizens of all ages. It was wonderful to spend time at the pow wow and to take a tour of the community.”

“I have always believed that as a leader in my community that our people need someone who cares deeply for their needs and understands their struggles,” continues Chief Meeches. “It all comes from the heart in these positions we hold as leadership and that is exactly what our people want to see. Regardless of what we may face on the daily we need to show them that we have the strength to continue on. I will continue to find ways to improve our community so that our people will also continue to carry the pride they have for our home. There’s always room for improvement!”

Anyone who would like to visit Swan Lake First Nation can easily plan a trip to the community as Swan Lake also has an RV park and cabin rental business. You can find details about the park and cabins here.

To see more photos of the pow wow and Swan Lake First Nation, view our Facebook photo album here.