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For Annie Beaulieu, 82, home will always be Rocher River. For former residents, the middle decades of Canada’s 150 years marked both the development of a vibrant, modern community, and its much-lamented demise, caused by decisions outside of their control and even their knowledge. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC) Jimmy Thomson is a videojournalist based in Hay River, NT. He graduated from UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism after earning a B.Sc. in biology at St. Francis Xavier University. You can find him on Twitter at @jwsthomson.

This story is part of a series from CBC North looking at Canada 150 through the eyes of Northern families.

First there was the fire.

It was New Year’s Eve in the late 1950s or early 1960s when the only school in Rocher River, a small community in the N.W.T.’s South Slave region, burned to the ground while the village watched helplessly.

The community as it was in the 1950s no longer exists. The fire set off a series of events that would take away the community’s stores, homes and eventually, everyone.

For the First Nations people living in Rocher River, the middle decades of Canada’s 150 years marked both the development of a vibrant, modern community, and its much-lamented demise, caused by decisions outside of their control and even their knowledge. Rocher River lies northeast of Fort Resolution, N.W.T., on the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake. (CBC) Tom Beaulieu barely remembers it. The N.W.T. MLA lived in the community until he was about four years old. But he kept coming back.

"To me I think it’s a traditional, spiritual place, and I feel different when I go there; I feel happy to go there," he says.

"It’s all grown over… but when I arrive there I kind of have a sense of ownership." A thriving town Rocher River was […]

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