About 150 to 160 children and youth attended the school each year. They were predominantly Cree and Anishinaabe from Northern Ontario, a region that was more than 686,000 sq. km in size. As a result, most of the students came from families and communities in remote areas. Some came by plane from more than 800 km away. Many were drawn from bands that are now part of Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
Many of the students were from Lac Seul First Nation, Sandy Lake First Nation, Trout Lake First Nation, Mishkegogamang First Nation, and many other First Nations in Treaty 3 and the western areas of Treaty 9. The people in these areas speak mainly Ojibway, Cree, Oji-Cree, and Swampy Cree, and other dialects local to their regions.
Just as students from far outside the Nishnawbe Aski Nation region were sent to Pelican Lake Indian Residential School, so too were students from this region sent to Indian residential schools far from home. For example, Mount Elgin Residential School, which some Nishnawbe Aski Nation children attended, was located in the southernmost part of the province in Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, located near London, Ontario.
Click below for curriculum materials about residential schools prepared by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.