About the Turtle Lodge

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The Turtle Lodge Center of Excellence in Indigenous Education and Wellness is a place for reconnecting to the Earth & sharing Indigenous ancestral knowledge, founded on the 7 Sacred Laws.

The Turtle Lodge offers Children, Youth, Adults and Elders the opportunity to come together in a sacred environment for: Traditional teachings, Ceremony, Healing, and the sharing of the perspectives of the Original Peoples of Turtle Island on how to have a good and peaceful life.

Our Vision

The Turtle Lodge is founded upon ancestral, land-based teachings that bring balance to life. It has been built for our children ~ the center of our lives. Our fundamental goal is Mino-Pi-Mati-Si-Win – A Good and Peaceful Way of Life. The Turtle Lodge is based on the Seven Sacred Laws and the Eight Paths of Life, ancient universal values of the Anishinabe People of Turtle Island (North America).

The History of the Lodge: A Vision

The Turtle Lodge in Sagkeeng First Nation was built in fulfillment of a vision received by Elder Dave Courchene Jr. while still a young man seeking his vision many years ago. For the Original Peoples of America, visions and dreams have always offered guidance in life.  Following our visions has helped us remain connected to the Great Spirit and the land.  A vision helps us to realize the significance of spiritual reality and that it is directly connected to nature.

In 2002, -inspired by Dave’s vision- First Nations and international volunteers from Sagkeeng First Nation, communities throughout North and South America, and from as far away as Germany, all came together to help build the Turtle Lodge.  They relied completely on donated materials and labour to raise the Turtle Lodge, as a labour of love and a true testament of the strength and survival of the Original Peoples.

The Vision

The vision Dave received was of a Turtle Lodge and a Village of Peace.  At the heart of the village was a lodge, built in the shape of a turtle.  Around the “Turtle Lodge” were four smaller turtle-shaped lodges in each of the four directions.  People of every colour were coming out of these lodges and walking toward the central lodge.  Animals (predominantly horses and buffalo), people in a garden, and Elders talking and laughing around a fire were seen.  An eagle circled in the sky above.

Meaning of the Vision

  • The turtle for the First Peoples is a symbol of truth.  Through the vision, the Elders interpreted that humanity had been given the gift of a lodge of truth, which would bring healing to people and peace to the world.
  • The central lodge confirms that it is time for all peoples to join in the centre.
  • The four smaller lodges represent the balance of life.  It was told that the first Turtle Lodge would “give birth” to other lodges.
  • The people working in the gardens reflect that our survival is connected to the land.
  • The sacred fire represents the entrance for our ancestors to come and give us guidance and direction, and how important it is to remain connected to our past.
  • The eagle flying in the sky is a sign of the Great Spirit giving blessing to the vision, and also, how important vision is in finding hope for the future, and offering direction and meaning in life.
  • The horses and buffalo are there to show how we are connected to nature.

Who We Are

The Turtle Lodge has been operating for the most part thanks to a number of volunteers and community leaders who all work together to bring forward our goals of promoting Original Peoples’ knowledge, positive identity, self-esteem and self-sufficiency.

Click here to learn more about our Knowledge Keepers and staff

Getting to the Lodge

The Turtle Lodge is situated in Sagkeeng First Nation (also known as Fort Alexander), Manitoba, Canada, on the Southern tip of Lake Winnipeg.  Sagkeeng First Nation is located 120 km north of the City of Winnipeg and has a band registration of 6,640 people. The Reserve is located on both shores of the Winnipeg River. The Anishnabe (Ojibwe) named this area Sagkeeng, which means “mouth of the river”. From Winnipeg, one can easily travel by car (about a 1 hour drive from the Perimeter) or bus (a 2 ½ hour ride) to Sagkeeng.

  • (1 1/2 hour drive)
  • Take Wellington Ave from the airport to Century St North/Rte 90
  • Go NORTH on Century St/Rte 90 for 10 km
  • Merge RIGHT onto Provincial Rte 101 EAST/Perimeter EAST
  • Take Perimeter EAST 16 km (10 miles) to Hwy 59 NORTH/Lagimodiere Boulevard (Grand Beach exit) for approximately 90 km – you will pass the South Beach Casino
  • Take Hwy 59 NORTH past South Beach Casino –  anticipate about a 20 mins drive after the casino to the next turn
  • Turn RIGHT at Highway 11 by the Traverse Bay Corner Store – has an Esso gas station. It is about a 10 min drive from the Esso to the turn for Turtle Lodge.
  • Travel for 10 km – you will pass the sign welcoming you to Sagkeeng First Nation, and over the bridge at Catfish Creek – you will turn right about 1/2 km after this bridge.
  • Turn RIGHT onto 47071 Hwy 11, the long gravel road just BEFORE the Sagkeeng Jr. High School.  You will see the Sagkeeng Jr. High School ahead of you on the RIGHT – the building with a red roof – you turn on the road BEFORE this school – if you pass it you’ve gone too far.  (There is a Turtle Lodge sign at the highway but if faces the water so can be easily overlooked if you are travelling at highway speed).
  • Follow road ½ km into the Turtle Lodge, address marker F
  • On Google maps search for:  The Turtle Lodge, 47017-F Highway 11, Fort Alexander, MB
  • (10 min drive)
  • From the Papertown Motor Inn (Hwy 304), turn LEFT onto Hwy 304, and immediately LEFT onto Hwy 11
  • Take Hwy 11 straight through Pine Falls, pass the Manitou Lodge on your LEFT just past the Shell gas station, which is on your RIGHT
  • Continue past the railroad tracks – you will see a sign welcoming you to Sagkeeng First Nation
  • Continue about 8 km, passing the Sagkeeng Arena Multiplex on your RIGHT – which is about your halfway mark from Powerview
  • You will see the Sagkeeng Jr High School on your LEFT – a building with a red roof
  • Turn LEFT onto 47071 Hwy 11, the long gravel road just AFTER the Sagkeeng High School. (You can see the Turtle Lodge from the highway)
  • Follow road ½ km into the Turtle Lodge
  • On Google maps:  47071-F Hwy 11, FORT ALEXANDER Indian Reserve, MB, R0E 0P0
  • There is no current bus service to the community.

Accommodations Near the Turtle Lodge

There are a number of motels and hotels within driving distance in the area around Sagkeeng First Nation:

Papertown Motor Inn (15 mins): 1.204.367.2261
Birchwood Motor Hotel (15 mins): 1.204.756.2596
South Beach Casino Hotel (30 mins): http://www.southbeachcasino.ca, 1.204.766.2100

Camping At the Turtle Lodge

During most major Events/Programs/Ceremonies, it is possible to camp at the Turtle Lodge. During the warmer seasons, you can pitch your own tent or tipi on site. Alternatively, one can often choose to stay inside the Turtle Lodge, an experience which many have found very enriching. We often invite women and girls to stay inside the Turtle Lodge during our events, and men and boys outside. Those choosing this option would be required to bring your own mattresses and bedding. There are no showers at the Turtle Lodge, although using alternate shower facilities are sometimes arranged within the community during our events for larger groups.

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