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Spirit of First Nations

New Brunswick is deeply rooted in its Indigenous heritage, with a history that stretches back millennia. The province is rich with the legacies of its First Nations, who have left an indelible mark on its geography through names that echo their languages and reflect a profound bond with the natural world. The cultural landscape is dotted with First Nations communities that continue to celebrate their heritage in New Brunswick, ensuring that their traditions and stories remain a vibrant part of the province's identity.

Visitors to New Brunswick can experience this living history by participating in cultural festivals that showcase traditional music, dance, and art. Opportunities abound to engage with the First Nations' way of life, from sampling traditional cuisine to participating in time-honored ceremonies. The land itself offers a journey through time, with trails that wind through ancient forests and along rivers that have been traveled for generations, leading to sites of spectacular natural beauty.

This shared heritage is a testament to the resilience and enduring spirit of the First Nations communities, whose cultural contributions are a cornerstone of New Brunswick's identity. Their stories, language, and traditions continue to enrich the experience of all who visit and live in this storied region.

Let's explore the First Nations communities in New Brunswick:

 

Buctouche MicMac First Nation

Population: 96

The Buctouche Micmac, who are also recognized by their traditional name Tjipogtotjg, have deep-rooted connections to the Buctouche area of New Brunswick, which lies mainly within Kent County. This community was established back in 1810. Interestingly, the name Tjipogtotjg translates to 'Little river of fire' in their language.

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The Eel Ground First Nation

Population: 977

Natoaganeg, also known as Eel Ground First Nation, thrives along New Brunswick's Miramichi River, representing a vibrant Mi'kmaq community steeped in history and culture. Located on the river's northwest bank, the community cherishes the river's vital role in their way of life and traditions. For a unique experience, go and stay in a tipi at Metepenagiag Heritage Park.

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Eel River Bar First Nation

Population: 415

Eel River Bar First Nation, known as Ugpi'ganjig, is a vital Mi'kmaq community in New Brunswick, nestled at the confluence of the Eel River and Chaleur Bay. Their distinct characteristics contribute significantly to the region's First Nations tapestry. Positioned in northeastern New Brunswick near Dalhousie, their geographic location has historically shaped their way of life. Check out the sandbank in Eel River. Known as one of the longest natural sand bars in the world, it features fresh water on one side and salty on the other.

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Elsipogtog First Nation

Population: 3,574

Elsipogtog First Nation, formerly known as Big Cove, is a prominent Mi'kmaq community in New Brunswick, holding a significant role in Mi'kmaq history and culture. Located in Kent County near the Richibucto River, its location has historically been vital for resource access. The community passionately upholds Mi'kmaq heritage, language, and traditions, boasting a strong cultural identity. Learn about medicinal plants at the Elsipogtog Mi'gmaq Cultural Centre.

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Esgenoôpetitj First Nation

Population: 1,715

The Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, known to some as the Burnt Church First Nation, is a Mi'kmaq community proudly standing along the shores of Miramichi Bay in New Brunswick. Occupying a vital role within the Mi'kmaq cultural and social framework, this community's heritage is intertwined with its coastal setting in Northumberland County, which has influenced their traditional way of life. The people of Esgenoôpetitj are deeply committed to preserving their Mi'kmaq language and customs, a testament to their rich cultural legacy.

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Fort Folly First Nation

Population: 158

Fort Folly First Nation, known locally as Pilick, is a charming Mi'kmaq community situated in Westmorland County, New Brunswick, along the serene Petitcodiac River. Despite its smaller scale relative to nearby First Nations, it holds a distinctive and precious role in the tapestry of the province's Indigenous cultures. Visitors are encouraged to explore this heritage by embarking on a guided tour of Fort Folly's four-kilometer-long medicine trails.

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Indian Island First Nation

Population: 138

Indian Island First Nation, also known as L'Île-des-Indiens, is a compact Mi'kmaq community situated in Kent County, New Brunswick, encompassing both a small island and adjacent mainland areas. However, despite its smaller size, this first nation plays a pivotal role in safeguarding Mi'kmaq cultural integrity and heritage. 

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Kingsclear First Nation

Population: 981

Kingsclear First Nation, located in New Brunswick, is an integral part of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Nation, deeply rooted in their rich cultural traditions. Situated in York County along the Saint John River, the community's history thrives amidst the river's influence. Their cultural heritage, language, and traditions echo the Wolastoqiyik identity, with a strong focus on preservation. 

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Madawaska Maliseet First Nation

Population: 374

Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, part of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) people, thrives as a vibrant indigenous community in New Brunswick. Nestled in Madawaska County near Edmundston, this community enjoys a strategic location near the Canada-United States border, with the Saint John River historically central to their lifestyle. Their profound connection to Maliseet cultural heritage, language, and traditions is a priority, lovingly preserved and promoted. Test your luck at the Grey Rock Casino, or pick up a gift from a smoke shop.

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Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation 

 

Population: 551

The Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation is a Mi'kmaq Indigenous community situated along the Little Southwest Miramichi River in New Brunswick. With a history spanning thousands of years, they hold a deep cultural heritage and a profound connection to their ancestral land. Take yourself on a tour of the exhibits and grounds at Metepenagiag Heritage Park.

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Oromocto First Nation 

Population: 723

The Oromocto First Nation is an Indigenous community located near Oromocto, about 20 kilometers southeast of Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. As part of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Nation, they have a rich history predating European contact, relying on the land and the Wolastoq (Saint John River) for sustenance and cultural practices. They have a designated reserve, Oromocto First Nation Indian Reserve No. 26, exclusively used for cultural and economic development, governed by community leadership. 

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Pabineau First Nation

Population: 200

Pabineau First Nation, also known as Pabineau, is a thriving First Nations community in northeastern New Brunswick. Situated along the Pabineau River, about 20 kilometers northwest of Bathurst, it proudly represents the Mi'kmaq Nation within the Maritimes region. Pabineau Falls, located just outside the community, is a stunning spot for hiking and picnicking.

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Saint Mary’s First Nation

Population: 1,822

Saint Mary's First Nation, or Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk, is a thriving Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) community in New Brunswick, nestled along the Saint John River, about 10 kilometers south of Fredericton. Reserve your table now for some fine seafood dining at the Wolastoq Wharf.

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Tobique First Nation

Population: 1,948

Tobique First Nation, or Tobique, stands as a resilient Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) community in western New Brunswick, nestled along the Tobique River, a tributary of the Saint John River. Preserving their vibrant Wolastoqiyik cultural heritage, including traditional practices, languages, art, and storytelling, is paramount. Be sure to check out the Neqotkuk Art Studio, which is housed in a yurt. 

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Woodstock First Nation

Population: 1,105

Woodstock First Nation, a resilient Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) community in New Brunswick, thrives near the southwestern town of Woodstock. Rooted in history, they've inhabited the region for generations, depending on the land and Saint John River for sustenance and cultural practices. Their designated reserve, Woodstock First Nation Indian Reserve No. 23, is integral to cultural, economic, and social life. Check out the Powwow Grounds where the community's annual powwow takes place.

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Peskotomuhkati Nation

Population: 3,575

The Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, also known as the Passamaquoddy Nation, is a unique Indigenous community with a rich cultural and historical heritage, belonging to the Wabanaki Confederacy. Primarily located in eastern Canada, particularly in New Brunswick and Quebec, with some members in the United States, they boast a millennia-old history steeped in fishing, hunting, gathering, and trade. Unlike traditional reserves, they have inhabited various villages and communities throughout their history, facing complex land use and occupancy issues in both Canada and the United States. 

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The Mi'kmaq and Maliseet are part of the larger Wabanaki Confederacy, which also includes the Penobscot and Abenaki nations of Maine. The term Wabanaki, meaning "Land of the Dawn,” designates a large area including Maine and the Maritime provinces. These First Nations communities reflect the vibrant indigenous heritage of New Brunswick, showcasing the diversity and rich cultural traditions of the province. Each community, with its unique customs and practices, contributes to the colourful mosaic that is the First Nations heritage in New Brunswick.