Yekooche First Nation

Yekooche First Nation is based 75 kilometers northwest of Fort St. James, BC at the north end of Stuart Lake on Yekooche reserves

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he Yekoochet’en (people of Yekooche) have lived in the Stuart Lake area for thousands of years. Situated in a rich area encompassing the Skeena and Fraser watersheds, the community prospered until the arrival of the Europeans.

In the beginning, the Yekoochet’en (also known as the Portage Band) shared their resources and knowledge allowing the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish a lucrative fishery on Yeko Bun (Cunningham Lake) and to freight goods between Stuart and Babine Lakes.

Over the next 150 years the Yekoochet’en saw their rights and way of life consistently eroded as trappers, prospectors and resource companies were given access to their traditional lands.

During this time many children were removed from the village at Portage and sent to residential schools where they were prevented from using their own language or practicing their cultural beliefs.

In 1959, for the purposes of settling reserve lands disputes the Federal Government amalgamated the communities of Tache, Pinche, Portage (Yekooche), Grand Rapids and Middle River into one large Band called the Stuart-Trembleur Lakes Band. In 1987 the Stuart-Trembleur Lakes Band changed their name to the Tl’azt’en Nation. In 1994 the Portage Band left Tl’azt’en Nation to form their own community taking their 4 reserve areas with them and became known as the Yekooche First Nation.

Yekooche is a small community reserve. As of March 2019, there are 236 band members, 98 of whom live on the Yekooche reserves